Olympic Hockey: NZ v China

August 18, 2008 at 6:24 am | Posted in Sporting Event | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Despite vows to go to bed early, I stayed up and watched the New Zealand men’s team play China in the 2008 Olympic Hockey Competition

New Zealand needed to win this game to make their path to the semi-final playoffs a realistic one.

August 17, 2008 by


Hockey Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

A hugely disappointing game for New Zealand. They started slowly, never really took control of the game and were thwarted by a frantic Chinese defence.

Going into this game China were at the bottom of Pool A – having lost all their games. One can’t help thinking that New Zealand subconciously expected to turn up and collect 3 points for the win. China, in front of thousands of screaming fans, took the game by the scruff of the neck and scored two goals in the first 15 or so minutes – 2 penalty corners; 2 well executed strikes (by Yi Song – the captain). This was like every other game that they had played ! always scoring the first goal, but loosing in the end.

New Zealand started slow and never really recovered. Yes, they had most of the pocession, but you don’t get points for near misses. They did not convert one penalty corner – 3 excellent saves by the Chinese goalkeeper (Rifeng Su) kept them out. Much to New Zealand’s credit they did get two goals back – both from field play – one from a cross (Simon Child) and one from a defensive error by China. New Zealand would have lost this game against a better side – the equaliser came from a loose Chinese clearance that went straight to Shea McAleese who drilled it inside the right hand post. A better side would not have become trapped for long periods of time inside their own half.

China mounted a spirited defence – at times it was not very elegant, at times it was not very subtle, at times they may have crossed the line – why wouldn’t they ? They had previously lost 2-5 to South Korea, when they had been 2-0 up. They were winning and did everything that was not illegal (and sometimes illegal) to slow and frustrate the New Zealanders. It almost worked.

So well done New Zealand for coming back from 0-2 down.

Not so good China: they should have been able to hold out for a win.

0.3

Now New Zealand are in trouble; the path to the semi-finals now requires them to beat Germany – who are ranked number 1 in the world. The loss to Spain in the final seconds and two early goals to China may just have ended New Zealand’s chances of a semi-final playoff. Still, if they can have a loose game, maybe Germany will too – this is sport afterall!

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