Argentina Hockey Champions Challenge 1: Classification Games
Japan have grabbed a 5th place finish at the Argentina Hockey Men's Champions Challenge thanks to a 4-2 victory over Canada. Yuta Fukushiro, Kei Kawakami, Kazuhiro Tsubouchi and Toshihiro Tachibana got the goals for Japan, with the Canadian goals coming from Matthew Bissett and Mark Pearson. Earlier in the day, South Africa defeated Poland 4-1 to claim 7th place.
More information about both matches can be found below.
5-6: Canada defeated as Japan take 5th
Japan have grabbed a 5th place finish here in Quilmes thanks to a 4-2 victory over Canada. Yuta Fukushiro, Kei Kawakami, Kazuhiro Tsubouchi and Toshihiro Tachibana got the goals for Japan, with the Canadian goals coming from Matthew Bissett and Mark Pearson.
Japan started the brighter of the two teams and edged in front when Yuta Fukushiro produced a tidy finish from open play just three minutes into the match. However, Canada pulled level in the 12th minute when Matthew Bissett got ahead of his marker to meet a stunning pass from Scott Tupper deflect home from close range. Japan restored their advantage three minutes later thanks to team captain Kei Kawakami’s delicious before Canada keeper David Carter pulled off a fine glove save to deny Katsuyoshi Nagasawa’s high penalty corner flick.
The team from Asia scored twice early in the second half to effectively kill the game, Kazuhiro Tsubouchi and Toshihiro Tachibana doing the damage. Tsubouchi touched in from close range in the 39th minute before Tachibana made the score 4-1 with a beautiful flicked finish from open play. Canada – whose second half challenge was affected by yellow cards to Keegan Pereira and Gabriel Ho-Garcia – pulled a goal back 20 minutes from the end when Mark Pearson produced a moment of magic, beating his man before finding the bottom corner of the Japanese goal with a thumping strike.
Both sides went close late on but no further goals were added, with Japan doing enough to seal a 5th place finish at the Argentina Hockey Champions Challenge 1.
To see the official match sheet, please click here.
Shunsuke Nagahoka (JPN Coach)
“Today, the skills of the players were very good. I’m really happy with their performance. The Japan team has only had a short preparation for this tournament, although we played very hard. We made many mistakes playing against Argentina, but we were closer in the other matches. Now we need time to improve, because I know our weaknesses.”
Kei Kawakami (JPN Captain)
“We are really happy for this victory today. This is a new team, so it was important for us to win this match. We came here hoping to finish in fourth place, but fifth place is ok.”
Anthony Farry (CAN Coach)
“It was a very disappointing end to the tournament for us. We showed our inexperience at crucial times today. I think we need to take a look at Japan … the way they played today was great. We got a lot of experience from this tournament and that’s really good.”
Scott Tupper (CAN Captain)
“Our first half was not great, but we managed to stay in the game and we thought that if we made some adjustments during half time then we could take a little bit more control. Unfortunately the first 10 minutes of the second half did not go so well for us … the score and circumstances changed our plans. About the tournament itself, it has been ok. Of course we wanted to win more games, but I think we have improved in comparison to our last participation.”
7-8: Improved South Africa too strong for Poland
South Africa produced their best performance in their final game of the Argentina Hockey Men’s Champions Challenge 1, defeating Poland 4-1. Strikes from Lloyd Norris-Jones, Matt Guise-Brown and Tim Drummond gave South Africa a 3-0 advantage after just 14 minutes of play, a lead which they never looked likely to relinquish. The win confirms a 7th place finish for South Africa, with Poland forced into 8th.
The South Africans gave an early indication of what was to come when Grant Glutz burst into the circle from the left and fired a reverse stick shot just wide of the right post after only two minutes of play. The opening goal arrived five minutes later through Lloyd Norris-Jones, who produced a spectacular tomahawk shot from the right of the circle. It was a lead that South Africa deserved and extended thanks to two goals in two minutes. Matt Guise-Brown fired in a penalty corner before Tim Drummond drilled a stunning low forehand drive from the top of the circle to make the score 3-0 after just 14 minutes. Poland struggled to come to terms with the speed and movement of their African opponents, and nearly conceded a fourth goal when Austin Smith hit the post with a penalty corner drag-flick towards the end of the half.
South Africa continued their domination in the early stages of the second half and could easily have added to their tally with Norris-Jones going close on two occasions. Poland grew in confidence as the half progressed, and gave themselves a glimmer of hope eleven minutes from the end when Marcin Lewartowski scored with a smart from close range. However, South Africa effectively sealed victory thanks to Taine Paton’s 64th minute strike, crashing home a loose ball when Poland failed to clear their lines. Poland made the score 4-2 three minutes from the end of the game when Adrian Krokosz’ attempted pass was diverted into the goal via a South African foot, but it was no more than a consolation as South Africa ended their competition on a high.
To see the official match sheet, please click here.
Gregg Clark (RSA Coach)
“I think we played good enough hockey in this tournament to give ourselves a chance to win more games but, as happened in the second half today, we get the ball to the final third of the field and we are not accurate. We make chances for ourselves but we don’t take those opportunities. That is not good enough at this level, and that’s why we played for the 7th and 8th place.”
Austin Smith (RSA Captain)
“Finally a victory. It’s better now than never. I think we played really well the first half, and we spoke at half time about not falling asleep in the second half, which we did to some extent. We let them create too many opportunities.”
Karol Sniekek (POL Coach)
“The tournament is over, that’s why we are relaxed. What happened to us is that we got ahead of ourselves after the victory against Korea, our head was too much in front, but other teams showed us our place. That is good for the team, because you learn more from defeats. We know our weaknesses and we have to work hard for the World League.”
Dariusz Rachwalski (POL Captain)
“We knew that the teams in this tournament are good and that they are play top level hockey, so we are really happy for having the opportunity to participate here. I think we improved and learned a lot from each match, which is really important for the new and inexperienced players. We will go home with a lot of knowledge from this tournament.”