It was drama beyond the final whistle at the Hero Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy London 2016 as India and Australia battled for supremacy through the 60-minute match, a subsequent shoot-out and then a team referral.
The 2016 Hero Hockey Champions Trophy provided the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre at the Olympic Park in London another chance to show just how well the city hosts our sport. A packed, noisy stadium greeted the players and with the traditional British rain holding off most of the time, it was a Champions Trophy to remember.
With the 2016 Olympics just around the corner, the event provided a high quality competition in which the world’s best teams could test themselves. While the home support for Great Britain was vociferous, the multi-cultural nature of London meant that flags were flying for every team.
Eventually it was Australia who lifted the trophy but not before an inspired India had pushed their opponents all the way. The result at the end of full-time was 0-0, but both teams had created plenty of chances to steal the match.
Blake Govers had seen a penalty stroke saved and Indian dominance in the second half of the game had drawn some impressive goalkeeping from Kookaburras shot-stoppers Andrew Charter and Tyler Lovell, who shared goalkeeping duties on the day.
Lovell was the man chosen for the shoot-out and made some crucial saves, with goals from Aran Zalewski, Daniel Beale and Simon Orchard giving Australia a 3-1 triumph in the one-on-ones.
The players had to wait a little longer for the official result to be confirmed due to a referral from the India team in relation to one of the shoot-out decisions. A review of the incident showed that no change to the result was necessary and the world number one ranked team lifted the trophy for the 14th time.
Reflecting back, Australia’s shoot-out hero, Tyler Lovell, said: “The 2016 Champions Trophy final was a typical close final game against India who were playing some really good hockey. To perform under the pressures of a major tournament final was pleasing. As a team we executed our skills well in the shoot-out and were able to win a drama packed finish to the game.”
Australia had been the overwhelming favourites to lift the trophy – particularly as they ended the group stages undefeated – but India were very much the unknown quantity. The silver medal was the best result the Asia team had recorded at a Champions Trophy, surpassing the bronze medal claimed at the 1982 event in Amstelveen, Netherlands.
In the bronze medal match, hosts Great Britain were beaten 1-0 by Germany – the sole goal coming from Marco Miltkau who finished the tournament as top scorer. Belgium beat Korea 4-3 in a 4-3 thrilling game to take fifth place, with Korea finishing in sixth.
It was further joy for Germany as Tobias Hauke was named Player of the Tournament while Great Britain’s George Pinner saw off some very strong competition from the other goalkeepers to take Best Goalkeeper Award.
With the final ever Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy taking place in Breda, the Netherlands, hockey fans can expect some fabulous hockey from the teams determined to get their names on that trophy one last time.
Tyler Lovell is as excited about the prospect of another Champions Trophy medal as he was in 2016: “This year’s Champions Trophy, as the final one, will have a bit more meaning to everyone. It provides an excellent platform for our younger players to gain valuable major tournament experience. Champions Trophy is another great opportunity for us to continue to develop our game and learn more about ourselves. As always, we will go into the tournament with high expectations of winning.”
With Breda gearing up to host the 37th Men’s Rabobank Hockey Champions Trophy, expect the stands at the BH & BC club to be awash with orange as the host nation face competition from reigning champions Australia, Argentina, Belgium, India and Pakistan. The event offers one of the last opportunities for these teams to play competitively before the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, adding even more spice to the occasion.