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Netherlands reign in Spain
30 Jul 2006 18:12

Visit the FIH tournament website for the men´s Sahara Hockey Champions Trophy

Best Player: Teun de Nooijer (NED)
Best Goalkeeper: Stephen Mowlam (AUS)
Best Young Player: Sergi Enrique (ESP)
Fair Play Award: Australia
Top Goal Scorers: Santi Freixa (ESP), Taeke Taekema (NED) - 8

The Netherlands claimed a record equalling eighth title with a deserved win over Germany in the final to complete a highly successful men´s Sahara Hockey Champions Trophy in Terrassa.

The Dutch were the most consistent team all tournament and were rewarded with the gold medal to gain an important advantage ahead of the BDO Hockey World Cup that starts in Germany in early September.

In the final, the Dutch led by two goal at half time thanks to a Taeke Taekema bullet and Teun de Nooijer´s exquisite burst of speed and sense of timing just before half time.

While Germany persevered and reduced the margin in the second half, the Netherlands always looked as though they had the match in hand.

The margin of victory was a fair indication of the match, with the Dutch completing an unbeaten tournament to join Australia and their opponents today at the top of the list of total Champions Trophy titles.

Earlier, Spain won the bronze medal with a high pressure penalty stroke shoot out win over Australia.

The match unfortunately was often marked with disappointing behaviour, with Spain not wasting any chances to question the umpires´ decisions in a display that took some of the gloss of their victory.

The second half of the match certainly didn´t do justice to the desire and physical exertion that both teams showed throughout the contest.

Spain trailed twice in the second half and then survived a penalty stroke during extra time (that would have won the bronze medal for Australia) to win the shootout 5-4.

With these teams scheduled to play each other in the first round of the men´s BDO Hockey World Cup in Monchendgladbach in just 38 days, Spain has taken psychological advantage with two victories this week in Terrassa.

World number one Australia returns home without a medal and their reputation of invincibility, which had been steadily growing over the past two years, gone. They were without two of their first-choice defenders at the end of the tournament and while Mark Knowles will return in time for the World Cup, some defensive realignment will needed before they reach Germany.

In the playoff to avoid last place, Pakistan struck twice before half time and then added another soon after the break to claim fifth position ahead of Argentina.

The turning point in the match came with Pakistan’s first goal. A terrible defensive error by Argentina in deep defence allowed Pakistan to take the lead after the world number five looked the team most likely to concede the goal at that stage.

It is the second year in a row that Pakistan has finished fifth and despite the return of penalty corner talker Sohail Abbas, they have a lot of work to do before the World Cup to produce the form that will worry the top four teams.

One thing that this tournament has shown is that Australia, Netherlands, Germany and Spain are clearly the best teams in the world.

As yesterday’s matches indicated, very little separates this quartet to make the prospect of the BDO Hockey World Cup, which starts in 38 days, an inviting proposition.

The other eight competing teams in Mönchengladbach face a very tough assignment to knock any of these nations out of the semi finals.

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