- Mazzilli and Peillat net doubles as Argentina defeat Spain
- New Zealand edge past France to make winning start
- Reigning world champions Australia begin title defence on Friday (30 November)
Bhubaneswar, India: Olympic champions Argentina and New Zealand’s Black Sticks both claimed important victories on the second day of action at the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, overcoming strong Pool A challenges from Spain and France respectively.
The day’s opening match exploded into life from the very beginning, with Argentina (FIH Hero World Ranking: 2) and Spain (WR:8) sharing five goals in the opening quarter. Spain’s Red Sticks lead twice thanks to strikes from Enrique Gonzalez and Josep Romeu with Argentina’s Agustin Mazzilli twice levelling the scores, before Gonzalo Peillat rattled a penalty corner drag-flick between the legs of Spain goalkeeper Quico Cortes to give Argentina a 3-2 lead.
Following a goal-less second quarter, Spain restored parity against the Olympic champions five minutes into the third quarter through Vincenc Ruiz, who fired into the roof of the Argentine goal a split-second after a shot had rebounded off the post.
The scoring in a remarkable game was completed by Peillat, who netted his second with a ferocious penalty corner effort to give Los Leones a hard-earned victory over a Spain side that had excelled.
Speaking after the match, Argentina attacker Lucas Vila was pleased that his side had made a winning start to their title challenge here in Bhubaneswar. “The first half was a bit crazy with a lot of goals, both against and also for us, but in the end, it was a win and it was what we needed, to start the competition in a good way”, said the 32-year-old Olympic gold medallist. “We needed to defend our circle better. We tried to do it today but couldn’t do it in the best way, but at least we could score more than them.”
The second match of the day was another close encounter, with 20th ranked France giving 8th ranked New Zealand a real run for their money. The first quarter was evenly contested, but the Black Sticks opened the scoring in the first minute of the second quarter thanks to an open play strike from Kane Russell, edging his side ahead against a French side that gave a very good account of themselves throughout.
The key moment arrived four minutes from the end of the contest when Odisha Player of the Match Stephen Jenness smashed home from a tight angle to effectively seal victory for the Black Sticks. France pulled a goal back in the final minute thanks to a penalty corner rocket from team captain Victor Charlet, but New Zealand controlled the dying seconds to claim all three points.
The match was particularly noteworthy for South African umpire Peter Wright, who was presented with his Golden Whistle in recognition of umpiring 100 international matches. Wright received his award from FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra immediately after officiating the game between New Zealand and France.
The competition continues on Friday 30 November with two matches in Pool B. At 1700 Indian Standard Time (UTC +5:30), reigning world champions Australia (WR:1) start their title defence against Ireland (WR:10), before England (WR:7) and China (WR:17) take to the field at 1900.
Looking ahead to his team’s meeting with Ireland, Australia Head Coach Colin Batch said: “We expect a difficult match against the Irish team. They are always committed, competitive and very team orientated but they have developed a lot of skilled players. They are very good on the counter attack and have a strong defence. We will need to be at our best to win the match.”
Ireland Head Coach Alexander Cox expressed his thoughts ahead of the clash with the Kookaburras, stating: “They’re number one in the world so we know it’s going to be tough game. We are going out there looking for a result and will give it our all. It’s a privilege to play here in India and we’re looking forward to getting our tournament started.”
On his team’s meeting with China, England co-captain George Pinner said: “The first game of every competition never seems to come quick enough. We’ve enjoyed an excellent preparation so far. Whilst we are focussed on developing and delivering our game, China are very much an unknown but we will not underestimate any opposition. It’ll be good to get underway.”
The Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 takes place between 28 November and 16 December. The Men’s World Cup is played every four years. For all information regarding the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, including the full schedule, teams, news and more, click here.
Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018
Day 2 Results – 29 November 2018: Pool A
Argentina 4, Spain 3
Odisha Player of the Match: Agustin Mazzilli (ARG)
New Zealand 2, France 1
Odisha Player of the Match: Stephen Jenness (NZL)
images: World Sport Pics