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September 16, 2000
Hockey: Pakistan held by Canada
Defending Olympic champions The Netherlands flexed their considerable muscle in an impressive 4-2 win over Britain in the opening match of the men's hockey tournament on Saturday.
With captain Stephan Veen and striker Teun de Nooijer in great touch, The Netherlands produced the brand of hockey which many believe can win them back-to-back Olympic titles.
De Nooijer opened the scoring in the 14th minute, rifling a shot past goalkeeper Simon Mason, who was forced to make a number of desperate saves.
Britain hit back through Mark Pearn in the 20th minute, but the Dutch always looked capable of blowing the game open. Jacques Brinkman and Jimmy Wallis traded goals before Britain were awarded a stroke in the 47th minute and subbed Calum Giles to take it. But Dutch goalkeeper Ronald Jansen saved it and Giles was taken straight off.
"That is the first stroke I have missed in a big competition and what a time to miss it," Giles lamented. "There is history between me and him (Jansen). I have had the upper hand in the past but today he beat me.
"I didn't notice if he moved, but regardless of what he did, I should have scored."
Veen put topped off a magnificent individual performance with goals in the 50th and 69th minute to wrap up victory for The Netherlands.
The second Pool A match featured some high-class goalkeeping, from Pakistan's Ahmad Alam and Canada's Mike Mahood.
With his team behind 2-1, Qasim denied Ken Pereira and Scott Mosher in a matter of seconds as the Canadian forwards tried desperately to stretch their advantage. He also made six other saves during the match.
Mahood was extremely effective in shutting down Pakistan's Sohail Abbas from penalty corners, denying the sharpshooter on numerous occasions.
Canadian coach Shiaz Virjee was pleased with his side's adapting to a new defensive pattern at the corners.
"It would be unethical of me as a coach to ask a player to sacrifice his body. If a player got hit on the knee he could be crippled for life," Virjee explained.
"That is why we have the keeper running out first. He is padded, it is safe and it worked well for us.
Playing in their first Olympics, the Canadians had many positives to take out of the 2-2 contest, not least the form of captain Peter Milkovich and Sean Campbell's back-stick goal in the 22nd minute.
In Pool B, a game of contrasting styles saw Spain and Korea share the points after a 1-all draw.
The precision and flair of Spain looked certain to win out after the 1996 Atlanta silver medallists dominated the opening 15 minutes, but it was the exuberant Koreans who stole the show in the second half.
Spain opened the scoring in the second minute through forward Pablo Pol Amat, and with flamboyant striker Juan Escarre back from a knee reconstruction and running freely, they appeared certain to build on their lead.
KOREA FIGHT HARD
Korea fought hard to stay in the contest, playing a fast brand of hockey which stretched the Spanish defence and thrilled their large band of supporters.
Korean striker Song Seung-Tae, the player of the tournament at last year's Champions Trophy in Brisbane, was a constant thorn in Spain's side.
Song levelled the scores with a field goal six minutes before the break, and created a number of other opportunities for his fellow forwards.
Despite periods of sustained attack after halftime, Korea were unable to find a winner. They had four penalty corners in the second term, three of which were saved by Spanish goalkeeper Ramon Jufresa.
Korea, who have never made the semi-finals at the Olympics, will have taken great heart from their performance. They had 13 shots on goal compared to Spain's two, with Yeo Woon-Kon and Jeon Jong-Ha also proving dangerous in attack.
In the second match in Pool B, Malaysia, who have never finished better than eighth in Olympic hockey competition, gave big guns Germany a fright.
With Shanmuganathan Kuhan and Bakar Nor Azlan resolute in defence, Malaysia restricted Germany to just two penalty corners in a scoreless first half.
Germany, who finished fourth in the 1996 Olympics, were forced to dig deep in the second term, with brilliant striker Bjoern Emmerling producing the only goal of the match from a penalty corner in the 43rd minute.
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