(Photo: © IHA)

Men’s Champions Challenge II – Day 2: Malaysia, Poland and host nation Ireland all booked their places in the Semi Finals of the Men’s Champions Challenge II tournament, being held in the city of Dublin.

Malaysia produced an extremely impressive display full of exciting attacking hockey to dispatch France 4-2, sealing their place in the 1-4 Play-Off matches with a game to spare. Malaysia took an early lead through Ismail ABU, but France levelled eight minutes later thanks to a spectacular strike from Lucas SEVESTRE. However, Malaysia took a stranglehold on the game between the 34th and 41st minutes, scoring three times through Muhammad Amin RAHIM, Azlan MISRON and Muhammad Razie ABD. RAHIM to effectively seal victory. It was a tough result for France, but a win against Austria on Thursday would still be enough for them to join Malaysia in the 1-4 Classification matches. Earlier in the day, Russia and Austria took to the field in a Pool B clash that was virtually a “must win” contest following opening day defeats for both teams. Russia were without Dmitry VOLKOV following the two Yellow Cards he received on Day 1, but this did not stop his team surging into a 3-0 lead thanks to strikes from Alexey SERGEEV, Evgeny MOKROUSOV and Dmitry AZAROV. However, Austria produced an excellent fight-back to secure a 4-4 draw, with penalty corner expert Michael KÖRPER chipping in with two goals to take his tournament tally to four. Mathematically it is possible for either one of these teams to qualify for the Semi Finals, with Austria having their fate in their own hands when they face France on Thursday.

In Pool A, Poland claimed their second win in two matches by edging past Chile in a fascinatingly close encounter. It was a brave effort from the South Americans, but it was the team from Europe that took a 3-2 win thanks to goals from Tomasz CHOCZAJ, Tomasz DUTKIEWICZ and Miroslaw JUSZCZAK. The victory gave Poland one foot in the Semi Finals ahead of the match between Ireland and Japan, but their place was confirmed as Ireland strolled to a 3-0 win over the tournament’s highest ranked team to also reach the 1-4 Classification matches. John JERMYN (2) and Michael WATT scored the goals for Ireland, ending Japan’s chances of winning both the title and qualification for the 2011 Champions Challenge I.

Full reports of the matches and scoring information can be found below.

Wednesday is a tournament rest day, with the action resuming on Thursday 9th July. That day will feature the final round of Pool matches, with the already qualified Malaysia taking on Russia in Pool B at 13.00 GMT. That match is followed by another crucial Pool B encounter, with Austria and France facing each other at 15.15. At 17.30, the first of two the two remaining Pool A matches will begin, with Japan playing Chile before the meeting between Poland and Ireland at 18.00.

You can find Pool Tables and Official Match Reports on the Men’s Champions Challenge II page of this website. To visit this page, click here.


Match 5: Austria and Russia draw 4-4
Austria produced a magnificent fight-back from 3-0 down to secure a 4-4 draw against Russia to give both teams their first points of the Men’s Champions Challenge II tournament.

Russia were without Dmitry VOLKOV following the two Yellow Cards he received in the match against France on Day 1, but this did not stop them surging into a 3-0 lead. Prolific striker Alexey SERGEEV opened the scoring with a 7th minute penalty corner before Evgeny MOKROUSOV made it 2-0 from open play just six minutes later. Dangerous forward Dmitry AZAROV came onto the field as a 14th minute substitute, and it was he who put Russia into a 3-0 lead with a 20th minute field goal. Russia were flying high, and it seemed that Austria had their work cut out if they were going to get anything from this match. They were given a life-line when Michael KÖRPER scored his third goal of the tournament with a typically powerful penalty corner flick which arrived four minutes before the half time break. The Austrians were visibly boosted by the goal and continued their hunt for more goals in the second half. Four minutes after the break, Benjamin STANZL cracked in a field goal to bring his team to within one goal of their opponents, but Russia re-established a two-goal cushion when Alexey SERGEEV scored his fourth goal of the tournament from a penalty corner. That goal would have been enough to kill off most teams, but Austria never gave up the chase and their efforts were rewarded when Dominik MONGHY’s open play effort found the back of the net with 17 minutes remaining. In the 64th minute, Austria won a penalty corner, giving drag flick star Michael KÖRPER the opportunity to level the scores. The indoor specialist made no mistake with his fourth goal in just two games to complete the scoring and deservedly give Austria a share of the points.

Match 6: Malaysia 4 defeated France 2
Malaysia showed a marked improvement from their Day 1 victory over Austria with a convincing 4-2 triumph over France. The Malaysians played some outstanding attacking hockey throughout the match, including an eight minute spell that saw three goals scored to effectively win the match. 

Malaysia took an early lead through Ismail ABU who fired an instinctive effort from the top of the circle in the 14th minute. France hit back in the 22nd minute thanks to Lucas SEVESTRE’s spectacular reverse stick strike that flew into the roof of the net. The score was tied, but it was still Malaysia who looked the most threatening of the two teams. Malaysia’s dominance paid off just before half time when Muhammad Amin RAHIM won a penalty stroke after showing great skills in the circle and it was he who stepped up to the mark to give his side the lead once more. France found themselves even further behind just two minutes after half time, when Azlan MISRON fired in a penalty corner to give Malaysia a 3-1 lead. 3-1 quickly became 4-1 when Muhammad Razie ABD. RAHIM all but sealed victory with a splendid finish in the 41st minute, diving at full stretch to get a vital touch onto a cross into the circle. Malaysia were rampant, but France managed to find a consolation goal in the 68th minute when Arnaud BECUWE slammed in a field goal to finish the scoring. The result sealed Malaysia’s place in the 1-4 Classification matches with a game to spare, while a win for France against Austria on Thursday would still be enough for them to also reach the Semi Final stage. 

Match 7: Poland 3 defeated Chile 2
Chile put up a terrific fight but fell to a 3-2 defeat against Poland, a team who now find themselves within touching distance of a place in the tournament Semi Finals. Should Ireland win this evening’s clash against Japan, Poland and the host nation will secure the top two places and reach the 1-4 Classification Matches.

Poland took an early lead when Tomasz CHOCZAJ scored from open play in only the ninth minute of the match. Despite this early blow, Chile immediately went on the counter-attack and put Poland under considerable pressure. The South Americans pulled level in the 12th minute when Esteban KRAINZ hit a field goal following an error from the Polish defence. However, less than three minutes later Poland’s captain fantastic Tomasz DUTKIEWICZ drag flicked his team back into the lead. Poland finished the half as the stronger team, winning a number of penalty corners but could not extend their lead before half time. Six minutes after half time, Poland won a penalty corner and forced a superb save from Chilean keeper Mauro SCAFF, but Miroslaw JUSZCZAK was on hand to force the rebound over the line to establish a 3-1 lead. All seemed to be going smoothly for Poland, but Chile bounced back once again in the 47th minute when KRAINZ scored his second goal of the game, this time from a penalty corner. Chile went in search of an equaliser, and came incredibly close to finding one when a penalty corner hit the post. However, Poland were given a boost when Jose ZIRPEL was given a Yellow Card, but despite being a player down Chile still seemed to be the team most likely to score, winning a number of penalty corners that were excellently defended by Poland. Miroslaw KLUCZYNSKI was given a Yellow Card in the 68th minute to reduce Poland to ten men, but the Europeans held on for the win.  

Match 8: Ireland 3 defeated Japan 0
Ireland strolled to a 3-0 win over the tournament’s highest ranked team, reaching the 1-4 Classification matches by defeating Japan 3-0. John JERMYN (2) and Michael WATT scored the goals for Ireland, ending Japan’s chances of winning the both the title and qualification for the 2011 Champions Challenge I.

Ireland started the match brilliantly and always looked the more likely to open the scoring. John JERMYN - who was the star of the show on Monday when he scored a hat trick – gave Ireland a 1-0 lead with a low and extremely powerful penalty corner in the 11th minute, and added a second penalty corner goal seven minutes later to make the score 2-0. The Irish team were looking dangerous with virtually every attack, as Eugene MAGEE, Mitch DARLING and Michael WATT caused problems with their fast breaks forward. Ireland’s third goal came direct from a defensive penalty corner, as Johnny JACKSON stole possession on the edge of his circle before feeding Stephen BUTLER who showed great pace to burst forward. An interchange of passes resulted in Michael WATT receiving the ball before squeezing a shot through the legs of Japan keeper Katsuya TAKASE to give Ireland a comfortable 3-0 lead at half-time. Japan pressed higher in the second half as they tried to get back into the match, but they could not find the goals required and fell to a second straight defeat in the tournament.   

Men’s Champions Challenge II, Dublin. Day 1 - Scores & Scorers

Match 5: Pool B - Austria v Russia 4-4 (1-3)
0-1 RUS Alexey SERGEEV PC 7m
0-2 RUS Evgeny MOKROUSOV FG 13m
0-3 RUS Dmitry AZAROV FG 20m
1-3 AUT Michael KÖRPER PC 31m
2-3 AUT Benjamin STANZL FG 39m
2-4 RUS Alexey SERGEEV PC 48m
3-4 AUT Dominik MONGHY FG 53m
4-4 AUT Michael KÖRPER PC 64m

Match 6: Pool B – France v Malaysia 2-4 (1-2)
0-1 MAS Ismail ABU FG 14m
1-1 FRA Lucas SEVESTRE FG 22m
1-2 MAS Muhammad Amin RAHIM PS 34m
1-3 MAS Azlan MISRON PC 37m
1-4 MAS Muhammad Razie ABD. RAHIM FG 41m
2-4 FRA Arnaud BECUWE FG 68m

Match 7: Pool A - Poland v Chile 3-2 (2-1)
1-0 POL Tomasz CHOCZAJ FG 9m
1-1 CHI Esteban KRAINZ FG 12m
2-1 POL Tomasz DUTKIEWICZ PC 15m
3-1 POL Miroslaw JUSZCZAK PC 42m
3-2 CHI Esteban KRAINZ PC 47m

Match 8: Pool A – Ireland v Japan 3-0 (3-0)
1-0 IRL John JERMYN PC 11m
2-0 IRL John JERMYN PC 18m
3-0 IRL Michael WATT FG 30m