Poland shock for Canadians

Dark horses stun second seeds 3-2 to throw mens draw wide open

 Dangerous Poland vindicated their ‘dark-horse’ billing, slotting home in the death to upset one of the favourites, Canada, 3-2 with their captain leading from the front here on Sunday.

With 25 seconds to go for the final hooter, the Poles earned a penalty corner and Dariusz Rachwalski stepped up, delivering the final blow with a well-taken hit that blazed past Canada goalkeeper David Carter.

The victory, which has opened up the tournament slightly, very much needed for Poland after their tame 1-2 loss to a spirited France in the opener on Saturday. And their intent was visible from the start as they played with a definitive plan that took the Canadians by surprise.

Giving very little space for the Canadians to operate, the Poles choked them in the midfield and employed the wait-and-strike approach. The strategy paid dividends in the 18th minute when Mateusz Poltaszewski struck from Rachwalski’s assist.

Two minutes from the break, Artur Mikula made it 2-0 but their plans for a happy interval were somewhat ruined when Iain Smith pulled one back for the Canadians at the stroke of halftime.

The goal seemed to upset Poland’s rhythm as they went completely on the defensive leading to Canada’s equaliser, Sukhwinder Singh striking in the 54th minute. However, the Poles soon regained their zip, going all out in the last five minutes, creating as many as three chances before nailing the winner.

“It’s great to defeat Canada and bounce back in the tournament,” said Rachwalski, whose brother Krzysztof is the coach of their women’s team. “As I’ve said earlier, India are the favourites but there is very little to choose between Canada, France and us.
“All of us have a chance of finishing second in the league phase, and that’s what we are aiming for. We started well, went off the boil a bit during the middle phase, but came back strongly towards the end. It’s imperative we feed off this win.”

Although pleased with three points, coach Bas Dirks cried foul over the tight scheduling. “We’ve had less than 24 hours to recover. We played our last match at 4 in the evening yesterday and are playing second seeds Canada at 12 noon today.

“I’m not sure if its fair. I believe the rules state that a team needs at least a 24-hour interval between matches. We are looking forward to a day’s rest tomorrow.”

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