Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Irish relegation schedule confirmed

Ireland's schedule for their relegation dog-fight sees them pitted against Azerbaijan at 1pm (Irish time) on Thursday afternoon before tipping off the women's classification final's day at 7.30am (Irish time) on Saturday.

The series was decided late on Tuesday as the Netherlands late surge of goals against the Russians meant they swapped positions in the Pool A standings with Azeris.

Quite what to make of the opponents based on tournament form, though, is difficult to tell in an incredibly one-sided tournament to date with all four semi-finalists relatively untroubled.

All four sides begin the relegations play-off stages with a point to their name, though the Russians and Azeris have a goal to their name - the only divider in an intense scrap.

Ireland have the form guide over Russia, having raced into a 4-0 half-time lead in Kazan at the Champion's Challenge II in June but Azerbaijan are a more unknown quantity. The side includes five naturalised Korean players as well as a trio of experienced players in their late 30s.

Their physical approach was in evidence against England earlier though they absorbed a huge quantity of pressure, falling back to within their own 25. However, a ranking two places than Ireland suggests they are no pushovers.

Elsewhere in the women's competition, the Netherlands completed their group with an immaculate record: three wins, three clean sheets and 24 goals to be installed as tournament favourites. They play Spain in the semi-finals while Germany face England.

On the men's side, Wednesday's highlight is Belgium against England. Both had gilt-edged chances to beat Germany who, on balance of play could well have been eliminated. Sport, though, only matters in the results column and so the Germans are all but through despite rarely getting out of first gear.

In Pool B, Holland need a point from their tie with France to progress. The French, though, have shown a massive jump in form from their Champion's Challenge II and Celtic Cup outings but will be without the talismanic Freddie Soyez due to a hand injury. Poland play Spain with the Iberians needing a point to top the pool.

Women's relegation playoffs (Irish time):
Thursday: (1pm) Ireland vs Azerbaijan; (11am) Russia vs Scotland
Saturday: (7.30am) Ireland vs Russia; (9.30am) Azerbaijan vs Scotland

* See below for a highlight reel from the Dutch women against England. The penalty stroke incident featured is part of a strange series of events. Goalkeeper Beth Storrey picked up a nasty shoulder injury, ultimately ending her involvement in the tournament. She stayed on for the stroke as England had no sub keeper on the bench and a new ruling states you do not get time stopped for a goalkeeper to be padded up.

As such, she decided not to contest the stroke. Former Den Bosch clubmate proceeded to zing the ball just over her shoulder. Kate Walsh then put on a jersey as a kicking full-back before sweeper Sally Walton came on as a replacement goalkeeper with seven minutes to go.


Anonymous said...

That's a shocking display of sportsmanship from the Dutch girl. Especially in light of the fact that they were already 3-0 up at that stage. Interested to know if others on this forum would have done the same thing in that situation?

Anonymous said...

Look at the size of the guns on the lady in white surrounded by the Irish! Physically tough to compete with I'd say.

Anonymous said...

"That's a shocking display of sportsmanship from the Dutch girl",

You don't win by being nice!

Anonymous said...

Are you doing a live blog again Stephen?

Queso said...

Anyway she apologised immediately after she scored.... it's easier to seek forgiveness than seek permission!!