Amstelveen, Aug. 23 (PTI): Australia set up yet another India-Pakistan clash — a fight for the bronze medal — when they hammered Argentina 8-3 to join Holland in the final of the 25th Champions Trophy hockey tournament here Saturday.
Holland crushed Germany 6-0. They made more than sure of topping the group standings with their biggest ever victory over Germany.
The victory took Australia’s tally to ten points at the end of the league, while Argentina, who needed to win Saturday to make the final, remained on six, the same as India. However, India (-2) finished ahead of Argentina (-5) in the league standings on superior goal-difference. Thus the India-Pakistan bronze tie. Argentina fight Germany for the fifth spot.
The awesome Aussie firepower was well in evidence as Michael McCann (12th and 53rd minutes), Craig Victory (28th), Grant Schubert (39th, 56th), Troy Elder (55th), Robert Hammond (59th) and Tristam Woodhouse (63rd) came up with clinical finishes.
Argentina, hopelessly outplayed in the second half, had their moments of success when Jorge Lombi (45th, 68th) and Carlos Retegui (57th) scored.The scoreline would suggest a one-sided encounter, but it was only in the latter stages of the second half did the Aussies really take control. Till then Argentina were very much in the game. The Aussie play underlined their strong teamwork marked by quick releases, accurate passing and a sure finish, be it in field play or during penalty corners.
Argentina were looking to nurse their goal-difference which would have put them up for a play-off against Pakistan for third place. But, on the day, they had just no answer to the Aussies who were unstoppable in the second half.
Such was the Aussie pace that their forwards frequently outran the rival defenders who left far too much space due to poor marking. Argentines fought hard, but ran out of time and steam at the finish. Australia, who played the last few minutes with nine players following yellow cards to Zain Wright and Paul Gaudoin, managed to thwart the Argentine forwards.
Meanwhile, skipper Dhanraj Pillay and coach Rajinder Singh heaped praise on defender Jugraj Singh for his performance in India’s stunning 7-4 victory over arch-rivals Pakistan on Friday. The 20-year-old Jugraj was specifically assigned to block Pakistan’s penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas by charging straight on to the player. “It was our strategy and it worked today,” said Jugraj, whose idol incidentally is Abbas himself, apart from Holland’s Bram Lomans.
Pillay said that any match with Pakistan was bound to be emotional. “I began my international career here at the Wagener Stadium in 1990, and in my first match, we beat Pakistan 4-0. Now, 13 years later, it is certainly a great feeling.”