Aussies get Belgium scare at F-hockey Champions Trophy
MELBOURNE (AFP) –
Australia were pushed by Belgium as they set after a fifth straight title, while India upset England on the opening day of the men’s Champions Trophy in Melbourne on Saturday.
In other pool games, Pakistan’s dream start turned into a nightmare as they fell 3-1 to the Netherlands, while Olympic champions Germany held off New Zealand 3-2.
Australia were pushed for their 4-2 win in Pool B, holding off the determined eighth-ranked Belgium.
In what was Belgium’s first ever Champions Trophy match, it looked as though it could have been a rout early as Australia dominated the first half scoring two unanswered goals.
Despite conceding another goal after half-time Belgium hit back with Sebastian Dockier scoring two goals to give them hope.
But a late goal to Chris Ciriello sealed victory for Australia.
Australian midfielder Eddie Ockenden said despite a first-up win there was still room for improvement.
“We need to be a bit sharper. Day one of the tournament, it might be a bit like that but certainly we need to get better,” Ockenden said.
Eleventh-ranked India, who have won only a bronze medal at the 2002 Champions Trophy in Amstelveen, came from behind to down fourth-ranked England 3-1 in Pool A.
After a muddling start, India controlled the remainder of the game against an inexperienced English line up.
“It was always going to be a tough game. It wasn’t great looking hockey, but it certainly was a tough fought win,” said Indian coach Michael Nobbs.
Pakistan began brightly against the Dutch, scoring the opening goal of the Pool B match, but succumbed to three unanswered goals by the classy Netherlands.
Pakistani coach Akhtar Rasool Chaudhry said there was much to like about the team’s efforts given the inexperience among his players.
“My team is on the way up, we are building our team and developing a good team. This is a start and I hope in one year we will have a very good team,” he said.
Pakistan opened the scoring against the run in play with Muhammad Waqas finishing off after a series of shots on goal in the 17th minute.
The Netherlands went on all-out attack and levelled with minutes remaining in the opening half, with the first of two goals by Sander de Wijn.
The Netherlands continued to control the second half and scored two more goals, including a second by de Wijn to seal a comfortable victory.
In another Pool A match, Germany held off the fast-finishing New Zealand after scoring all their goals in the first half.
The Olympic champions’ inexperienced line-up showed signs of fatigue in the second half, giving New Zealand a chance to snatch victory.
A late goal to Matt L’Huillier with five minutes remaining gave the Kiwis some hope, but despite some close calls the German defence held on.
“I was unhappy with the score line at half time obviously but I wasn’t unhappy with our play,” New Zealand coach Colin Batch said.
The tournament continues on Sunday with Belgium playing Pakistan, England taking on Germany, the Netherlands facing off against Australia and New Zealand meeting India.