It is 2nd Bronze Medal for Argentina’s head coach Carlos Retegui in two days, as the Los Leones defeated England 2-0 the 3rd/4th place play off of Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 in the Hague. Yesterday, Las Leonas coached by Retegui also won the Bronze Medal in women’s competition as they defeated USA by 2-1.
England Captain Barry Middleton and his side can be proud of their two week journey at the World Cup as they matched their world ranking position of fourth, but that was little conciliation for England as they fell to their knees at full time.
Head Coach Bobby Crutchley’s side gave everything across the 70 minutes but were unable to convert the chances they created. It was Los Leones’ Matias Paredes who shattered any dreams of a medal for England with a quick-fire brace in the 55th & 56th minute to seal the 2-0 victory. Argentina came into this tournament ranked 11th, but have finished with their first ever medal at a World Cup and will be assured of a rise in the rankings following the tournament.
It was goal-less as the two sides headed in for half time, but neither team had been short on attacking play across the first 35 minutes. Nick Catlin and Ashley Jackson ran the show for England in midfield, but the half time stats showed Argentina’s efficiency was superior with more circle penetrations and more shots on goal. England had a good chance to take the lead in the final minute before the break with their first penalty corner of the game, but Jackson’s shot was chased down well by Argentina.
England won another penalty corner early in the second half, but this time Mark Gleghorne’s flick was well saved by Juan Vivaldi in Argentina’s goal. With the tournament’s top goal scorer, Gonzalo Peillat, in their side, Argentina’s attacking prowess could not be under estimated and they always looked a threat as they pushed forward. Over a two minute period the game was decided; another Argentine striker, Matias Paredes, scored twice in the 55th & 56th minute; the first, a great reverse stick effort and the second a shot from in front of the goal after a great run from Lucas Vila along the base line.
England gave everything and brought George Pinner off with seven minutes left on the clock, but a yellow card for kicking-back Mikey Hoare just moments later meant Pinner was needed back on the pitch. England reverted back to 11 outfield players as soon as they could, but there was no way through the Argentine defence; Vivaldi was superb in goal and as he got a glove to Jackson’s penalty corner flick in the closing minutes England’s chance of a medal slipped away.
On the game today, England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said, “We’re obviously devastated. If you make a semi-final it’s a horrible position to come fourth and that’s where we are at the moment. We had a bit of a dose of reality today. We defend solidly and we have some good players but we don’t quite have enough in terms of creating chances and scoring goals. That’s something we’ll have to change. We are tough to beat which is great but we need to score some more goals and that’s the hardest thing to coach someone. Our players will put their bodies on the line and run all day, but that will only get you so far.”
“When you get to the big games it’s brilliant. When you don’t end up with a medal it’s devastating. 12 months ago the team was brand new and we had a lot of work to do. We’ve come a long way but we have plenty of guys in our side who are winners and who won’t accept this as good enough. We have to push on and I’ve had a dose of reality too. Players learning international hockey is a steep learning curve and the attacking stuff, the bit going forwards, is the hardest bit to learn.”
On players playing abroad during the domestic season, “We have a number of players who play abroad who often come and talk to me about it. I’ve encouraged it as part of their development, definitely. However, the biggest strength we have is the fact we can get the guys together and train together on a regular basis. If we lose that we make life hard for ourselves and we would drop down the rankings, I promise you. I played abroad myself and it is good for your development but it’s not the answer.”
England Captain Barry Middleton said, “We have to bounce back from this. We’ve shown so far in the tournament we can do it. We came back from the Australia game to win a massive game against Belgium. We played against the Dutch in the semi-finals and we were really disappointed as we came so close. Today didn’t go for us and we need to come back from it but that doesn’t start today, it starts when we get back home and start training again. When you make a semi-final fourth is the place you really don’t want to come, we’ve done it a few times now and it’s starting to hurt.”
On the Commonwealth Games and playing the big games: “We have to prove in the Commonwealth Games that we can deal with the big games. Semi-finals are always against tough teams and we didn’t want to be in this game, we wanted to be in the final. We’d have been happy with third but it wasn’t what we came for.”
Watch England on home turf at the Investec London Cup on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This is the first tournament to be at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, hockey’s legacy stadium, and will be held across five days from 9th – 13th July.