WL Super Final: Day 5
June 17, 2012 2 Comments
Today’s semi-final matches determined the teams to be playing for places in the 1-4 and 5-8 brackets on day 6. The Final of the 2012 World League will be decided in the match between Croatia and Spain. The current world champions, Italy, will be playing for Bronze with the USA. The Asian rivals, Kazakhstan and China, will meet again during this tournament for the 5th position. Australia and Brazil will be playing for 7-8 places.
AUSTRALIA 6 : 7 KAZAKHSTAN
It was the first ever win by this Central Asian team over Australia. At the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney these nations drew. In my opinion, the Kazakhstan team at the 2000 Olympics was stronger than the current one. In every subsequent encounter Australia has prevailed. Australia’s current average age is 26, Kazakhstan’s is 29.
Up until the beginning of the fourth quarter Kazakhstan led by 1-2 goals. With about 7 minutes in the match to go Australia equalized 5:5 and thirty seconds later went ahead 6:5 through an outside shot by Richard Campbell and counter-attack goal by John Cotterill. The other goals were scored by Thomas Whalan (2), William Miller and John Cotterill. Kazakhstan’s left-hander, Sergei Gubarev, was on fire scoring three goals from the right-wing attacking position.
Three goals out of Australia’s six resulted from unforgivable mistakes by the Kazakhstanis who gifted the ball to the Ozzies through bad passes. Had it not been for these gross errors Australia would not have come back and Kazakhstan’s win could have been more comfortable. The Central Asians equalized 6-all with 3.35 minutes to go. Australia’s next several attacks did not yield a goal. With 4 seconds to go Sam McGregor got excluded but failed to look at the referee when the call was made. Not knowing that he was excluded, McGregor illegally intercepted a pass by a Kazakhstani player. That resulted in a penalty against Australia that was converted by Evgeniy Zhilyayev for a final result of 7:6 in Kazakhstan’s favour.
X-man: Australia 7/1 (14%), Kazakhstan 12/4 (33%)
Penalty: Australia 0, Kazakhstan 1/1
Referees: Cabral and Gomez
USA 10 : 11 CROATIA
It was the US team that knocked Croatia out of medal contention at the Beijing-2008 Olympiad to finish with Silver a medal there. Last May these teams had two encounters on American soil where each had a win.
In today’s match the USA was leading until the middle of the third period when Croatia equalized 7:7. The Americans went ahead again two minutes later through Tony Azevedo’s goal. But Croatia’s left-hander, Maro Jokovic – who scored three goals in the match – threw an outside shot that equalized the score again. Twenty one year old Sandro Sukno’s shooting prowess – he scored four goals – contributed to Croatia’s eventual victory 11:10.
The US team looked physically much better in this match. It was their best match at this tournament so far. Croatia’s playing style can be described as not very exciting but rather efficient.
X-man: USA 9/5 (56%), Croatia 11/8 (73%)
Penalty: USA 0, Croatia 1/1
Referees: Flahive and Balfanbayev
China 10 : 7 Brazil
It can often be the case that an aspiring team can have enthusiastic games against much stronger opponents to lose by 1-2 goals only. And this is important to try to win against better opposition. But a real test and a sign of new quality is how a team plays in the matches with equal or weaker opponents. In my opinion, the current Brazilian team is a lesser team than China. However, they were in the game and even leading until the fourth quarter of the match. Only in the last six minutes was China able to extend its lead to win 10:7. Perhaps one of the reasons that affected the Chinese team was a demoralizing loss in the previous match against Spain with the score line of 1:11.
It will be interesting to see how they will go against Kazakhstan on the final day. They won the previous match after a penalty shootout.
X-man: China 9/3 (33%), Brazil 8/4 (50%)
Penalty: China 0, Brazil 1/1
Referees: Peris and Moller
SPAIN 9 (5) : (5) 7 ITALY
It was a goal-for-goal game throughout the entire match. Finishing 5-all after four quarters, Spain won through the penalty shoot-out to progress to the final. Italy has not shown the form it displayed at the world championships in Shanghai last July. The only game during the World League Final in which Italy looked like a world champion was against the USA. It will be interesting to see how Italy performs in the Bronze medal match.
X-man: Spain 8/1 (13%), Italy 4/0 (0%)
Referees: Koganov and Sadekov