Dutch men claim third jewel in hockey "triple crown"

Before the start of the Habib Bank 20th Men's Champions Trophy, staged last month in Lahore, Pakistan, the last minute withdrawal of the English and their replacement by Korea was the story of note.

At the conclusion of the 20th anniversary affair, it was the men from the Netherlands that were noteworthy, defeating hosts Pakistan 3-1 in the final to become the first men's hockey team ever to hold three major titles at the same time. Holland are also the current World Champions (Utrecht, June 1998) and Olympic Champion (Atlanta, 1996).

On finals day, Australia defeated Korea to finish in third place, but had to do it on penalty strokes (8-7) after playing to a one all draw in regulation and extra time. Spain and Germany played to a 2-2 draw in regulation with Spain finally snatching victory in extra time to avoid finishing last and being dropped from next year's competition. Spain trailed 2-1 with seven minutes to play and evened the score in the 69th minute to force the extra time.

The sixth place finisher, Germany, drops out of the competition and is replaced by England for the 1999 Champions Trophy in Brisbane, Australia. England was reinstated into the tournament by the FIH Council during its November meeting. Germany becomes the first reserve team for the 2000 Champions Trophy scheduled to take place in the Netherlands.

Throughout the event, the Dutch at the top of the table and the Germans - untypically - at the bottom, seemed to be the only sure bets. In between, Pakistan, Australia, Korea and Spain kept everyone wondering which would rise to take up the Netherlands challenge. In pool play, only Pakistan could find the right formula to get to the Dutch, defeating them 5-3. And despite an earlier loss to Korea, the home team eventually earned a spot in the final, which was played in front of a crowd of approximately 40,000.

Television viewers from around the world also got to share the Lahore Champions Trophy experience. Nearly 68 hours of programming was aired, including: ten matches broadcast live by ESPN STAR Sports (covering 31 countries in Asia and the Indian sub-continent), all 18 matches - whole or in part - shown by host broadcaster, PTV.

Other countries were highlights and news coverage of the 20th Men's Champions Trophy appeared are:

Argentina & Uruguay (TyC Sports), Germany (ZDF), Netherlands (NOS), Iceland (IBC), Israel (JCS), Middle East (ORBIT - 22 countries), Norway (TV2), Spain (TVE), Turkey (Supersport), Singapore (TV 12).