Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup: Round I of pool matches saw domination of field scorers
The last two matches of round I of pool matches in the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar provided the contract. While runners up of last edition Netherlands thrashed Asian Games silver medalist Malaysia 7-0, Germany struggled hard to down Pakistan by a solitary goal.
In eight matches played so far, 33 goals have been scored, Only one game between 1986 runners up England and debutant China has ended in a 2-2 draw. Defending champions Australia also struggled to beat Ireland 2-1.
Jeroen Hertzberger of Netherlands had the distinction of scoring the first hat trick of goals. With the exception of India, ranked fifth in the world, other Asian teams in the tournament – four times champion Pakistan and Malaysia – started on a dismal note losing their opening games. India started well with a flattering 5-0 win over African champions, Republic of South Africa.
Of 16 teams divided in four pools, pool D appears to be the toughest as three of its teams – Pakistan, Netherlands and Germany – have shared the World Cup title nine times among themselves. Malaysia is the only team in the pool to have remained medal less in the World Cup till now.
World Cup rankings and previous performances become insignificant in elite events like World Cup as was reflected by the China-England match. Even the Ireland-Australia game had the knowledgable audience at Kalinga stadium sitting on edge of its seats till the last minute with three times World Cup champion just scrapping through.
It is very difficult to chose between the teams at the end of round one though Australia, Germany, Netherlands, India and Belgium have shown little edge over their respective pool opponents in the games decided so far.
Argentina and Spain played a tall scoring game with the Olympic champions Argentina managing a 4-3 win over Spain. Last year Spain had beaten Argentina 2-1 in the World Hockey League final.
The second round may clear position of some of the teams advancing to the next knock out stage.All the seven losers will have to pul up their socks for the next game to stay in hunt for a position in quarter finals.