T&T senior men’s indoor hockey squad ended their campaign at the Fifth FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup with a heart-breaking 3-2 last minute defeat at the hands of Russia at the 7,000 seater Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin, Germany, yesterday.
Beaten by the same Russians 5-4 on Tuesday in their final warm-up match before the start of 12-team competition, the 18th ranked T&T stickmen found themselves behind 2-0 down after ten minutes courtesy goals from Dimitrii Kuraev in the sixth minute and Pavel Golubev.
However, a minute before the half-time interval, Jordan Vieira pulled a goal back for the ‘Calypso Stickmen’ before Akim Toussaint drew the Solomon Eccles-captain squad level at 2-2 with seven minutes left to play.
The match then seemed headed for penalty-stroke with the seconds ticking down in the final minute, but a gamble from T&T came back to prove its undoing as Golubev fired in the decisive item with time running out to earn his team ninth spot, one ahead of T&T.
Overall, the loss was the fifth in six matches for the Raphael Govia-coached T&T men who ended in fifth spot in their six-team Pool A round-robin series after a 10-2 loss at the hands of three-time champions and host country Germany and was beaten as well by Czech Republic (7-2), Poland (11-5), and Australia (7-6) before registering a first ever victory at the event, 6-4 over Kazakhstan on Thursday.
Speaking after his team’s final match, Govia said his team had a great tournament considering they had just three matches at this level of preparation.
He pondered, "Imagine if we had a month of prep at high level teams."
With regards to the loss against the Russians, Govia, a former national indoor and outdoor player said, “We took the game to Russia and converted two beautiful penalty corners while vice-captain and goalkeeper Ron Alexander kept us in the game after being 2-0 down.’
‘We took the fight to the Russians ranked fourth in world and lost it devastatingly 3-2 going for the win cause we had them under pressure with stunning attacks from Toussaint, Veira and Pierre (Mickell). We lost playing our brand and which won the hearts of everyone up here who watched us play as assistant coach Darren Cowie says it's our identity. In general, I believe the boys can hold their heads high and proud as Lara said , "We Entertained."
Govia added, "And that's the call I made from day one, absolutely "No Fear". Eccles also led this team well along with the other senior players. The staff also did their part looking after the players well as our manager worked round the clock from Holland to here. I take this loss off the boys as I went for the jugular as we had them on the back foot and lost it with mere seconds on the clock."
Ten years ago on debut in the second edition of the tournament held in Vienna, Austria, the T&T men’s team ended in the 12th and final spot after losing to South Africa 4-2 in their play-off encounter.
The T&T squad were also beaten by Germany (9-2), Russia (9-2), Switzerland (6-1), Australia (5-1) and Czech Republic (6-1) back then in their group matches.
The Russians, meanwhile, had wins over South Africa (5-0) and Belgium (5-4) while losing to Switzerland (3-1), Australia (8-4) and Iran 4-3, in their final Pool B match to end with six points and a 2-3 record.
Yesterday, in the other matches, South Africa ended in 11th spot for the second tournament running with a 6-1 defeat of Kazakhstan.
RESULTS & FIXTURES
11th - 12th play-off: South Africa 6 bt Kazakhstan 1
Ninth - Tenth play-off: Russia 3 bt T&T 2
Semifinal 1: Germany 6 bt Iran 2
Semifinal 2: Austria 2 bt Australia 1
Third place play-off: Iran vs Australia, 7 am
Final: Germany vs Austria 10 am.