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 February 27, 2002 | 1130 IST
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Netherlands and Argentina
cruise to easy win

The Netherlands cruised to their third win with a 5-1 triumph over Belgium in pool A on Wednesday, but coach Joost Bellaart warned the game with Spain on Thursday would be a sterner test.

In the other early morning match in pool A, Argentina were never in trouble as they beat South Africa 4-1 to collect their first points and leave the African champions without a point from three starts.

"Tomorrow (Thursday) the tournament begins," Bellaart said.


Netherlands Remco van Wijk
(R) tussles for the ball with
Belgium's Joeri Beunen.
Photo Credit:
REUTERS/Zainal Abd Halim

"Spain is another standard. We know that from the various finals we have played against them in the Atlanta Olympics and the World Cup in Utrecht, which were both very even matches.

"They play a very adventurous game and I am looking forward to it. The players must be challenged to get 12 points, which will give them confidence when they play the big two, who are Germany and Pakistan," Bellaart said.

The World Cup holders were hardly stretched as they went to the top of pool A -- at least until later on Wednesday when Germany meet Spain and Pakistan play New Zealand -- with nine points and an 11-2 goal difference.

Marten Eikelboom put the Dutch ahead within 15 minutes, scoring his second goal of the championship following a rebound. Karel Klaver (21 minutes) and Taeke Taekema (33), from a penalty corner, made it 3-0 at the interval.

Teun de Nooijer (44) scored the fourth and Taekema, from another penalty corner, completed the Dutch goal haul three minutes from the end. It was de Nooijer's third goal of the World Cup.

VISIBLY DISAPPOINTED

Maxime Luyck netted a penalty corner rebound for Belgium's consolation goal in the 54th minute.

Belgian coach Giles Bonnet was visibly disappointed with the result, which followed his side's narrow defeats against Spain and Pakistan.

"We made a lot of errors which was disappointing and I am not sure that all their goals were not defendable," he said.

"The Netherlands are a world class side and if you want to compete with these top teams you have to reduce your error count and we did not do that."

Argentina were 3-0 ahead at half time thanks to Mario Almada (7) and Jorge Lombi, who scored his second and third goals of the finals in the 18th and 22nd minutes.

Greg Nicol replied for South Africa in the 63rd minute before Matias Vilas completed Argentina's goal tally in the final minute.

In pool B matches later on Wednesday, leaders South Korea play Japan and second place Australia meet third place Poland.

Hosts Malaysia, on a high after recording their first win against Japan, take on India, beaten 2-1 by South Korea on Tuesday.

England, beaten 1-0 by Australia on Tuesday, play bottom of the table Cuba.

The top two in each pool go through to the semifinals on March 7, with the final scheduled for March 9 in Malaysia's 18,000-seater National Hockey Stadium.

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