Rediff News
All News
News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp  » Sports » Spain paid for missed opportunities

Spain paid for missed opportunities

By Pargat Singh
September 16, 2006 16:33 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

Spain were outstanding in their hockey World Cup semi-final against defending champions Germany, but were unlucky not to advance to the title round.

With Australia coming through by beating Korea in the other semi-final, they have a chance to avenge their 2002 defeat against Germany.

Spain, despite ripping through the German defence in a manner seldom seen in international hockey, were unable to convert more than half a dozen scoring chances.

- Hockey World Cup coverage

Germany's famed defence wilted under the Spanish onslaught, but the hosts hung on grimly. That gave a glimpse of the German defenders' mental strength, which eventually carried them into the final.

Germany's 3-1 victory in the penalty shoot-out, after being tied 2-2 during the regulation period and extra-time, did not reflect Spanish domination.

The contest was a real thriller, where the ball briskly moved from one end to the other. The Spanish strikers' touch game created gaps in the German defence.

Spain's wayward shooting allowed this young German team to have another shot at the title they clinched in Kuala Lumpur

Once again, Germany will have to overcome a robust Australia, who overcame the disappointment of losing the 2002 World Cup final by winning the Olympic gold medal. They will now be seeking revenge for the defeat of four years ago.

Who would have predicted this line-up for the final after Germany's first match against India, where the defending champions secured victory only through a last-minute goal owing to a defensive lapse by the Indians.

But the young German outfit has exhibited its growing confidence as the tournament proceeded.

The home crowd's support has apparently played a huge role in lifting Germany's game. Australia must be aware of the challenge confronting them despite a comparatively easier 4-2 victory against Asian Games champions South Korea.

The nippy Koreans proved that rankings mean little when teams go on to the field. They silenced their critics by twice taking the lead against Australia.

Australia have appeared to be the most-balanced team, with fine players for all positions. It was this quality of the Aussie team that made the difference against Korea, who played a hard game and rightly earned applause for their display.

Starting with the silver medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the Koreans now have two appearances in the semi-finals at successive World Cups. Such achievements would be the envy of any nation.

The Koreans played a tough game, banking on breakaway counter-attacks that had posed problems for Australia's defence. Jang Jong-Hyun's penalty corner conversion – his fourth goal of the World Cup - not only gave South Korea a one-goal lead at half-time, but compelled Australia's strikers to take more risks.

My pick of the match was the second Korean goal that Kang Seong-Jang created from an acute angle, keeping the Asian team ahead after Bevan George had neutralised the first-half

deficit with a penalty-corner strike.

Trailing by a goal for the second time in the semi-final, the Aussies did not lose their composure. Their efforts were rewarded with soft-touch goals from Travis Brooks and Jamie Dwyer.

From that moment, Australia had things under control. Even if the defence came under some pressure, the Aussies were aware that their strikers will find a more-exposed Korean goal when the Asian Games champions charged out for an equaliser.

Australia just kept their goal safe and knew that it will open up scoring opportunities at the other end. The Korean equaliser never materalised, but Australia's Michael McCann benefited from the split-up Korean defence in the dying seconds.

The Germans will be aware that the Aussies appear menacing when they surge forward.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Pargat Singh
Source: PTI© Copyright 2022 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.