New Zealand, Britain into women’s hockey semis
New Zealand’s women’s hockey team held Germany to a 0-0 draw Monday to knock out the former champions and reach their first Olympic semi-final after 32 years of trying.
The draw in their last group match at the Riverside Arena guarantees New Zealand’s place among the top two in Pool B, with Argentina and Australia set to fight it out for the other semi-final berth.
Great Britain also went through thanks to Japan’s win 1-0 over China. The hosts qualify second in Pool A, behind defending champions the Netherlands.
New Zealand had never previously finished higher than sixth at the Olympics. But their Australian coach Mark Hager has since overseen a rise to seventh in the world rankings.
“It’s huge. I don’t think anyone expected us to,” Hager said, when asked about their achievement in reaching the last four.
“We were always possibly a threat and when we started the tournament well, we got on a bit of a roll.”
The Netherlands, three points clear in Pool A with one match remaining, are the only other team into the semi-finals.
Germany were the 2004 gold-medallists but they needed to beat New Zealand 3-0 to stay in contention this time. The Germans slipped to the fourth spot in the pool.
Germany had a lot more of the game but were continually denied by the New Zealand defence, and in particular goalkeeper Bianca Russell, who is making her Olympic debut aged 34. German ‘keeper Yvonne Frank also had a commanding game.
Meanwhile, a huge roar erupted at the final whistle when Japan beat China, a result which put Britain through before their final match against the Netherlands later.
China, who did not commit enough to attack, finished third in Pool A. The crucial goal was scored from close range by stalwart Rika Komazawa, following up at a corner, in the 54th minute.
Sakiyo Asano, Japan’s goalkeeper, was also popular with the home crowd for making two or three big saves.
South Africa won their final Pool B game against the United States 7-0 to switch places with the Americans at the bottom of the table. Pietie Coetzee and Tarryn Bright each picked up a brace as South Africa enjoyed their biggest win over USA for 18 years.© AFP 2013