The Italy Men’s Hockey Team are ready for their Canadian challenge in the Semi-Final of the FIH Hockey Series Finals to be played on Friday, 3rd May, 2019 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Augustin Nunez-led Italy team who are the lowest ranked team in the tournament have made it to the Semis as Pool B toppers after scoring victories against China (2-1), Brazil (3-0) and Malaysia (4-2).
Canada, on the other side, have come into the Semi Finals after beating China (3-1) in a shootout in their cross-over match.
In the pool stage matches, Canada had wins against Austria (2-1) and Belarus (6-2) and just one loss to Wales (1-3).
Italy at this tournament, have been a class apart having stunned everyone by winning all their pool stage matches and securing 9 goals in the tournament so far.
The last time, the team came together for a tournament was at the Hockey Series Open in Poland in August 2018 where they finished second.
“We haven’t played any test matches before coming. Yes, ofcourse we trained a lot, but all of us trained individually in our respective clubs…. But together? Not for more than 8 days,” stated Italy’s 28 year-old goal scoring machine — Julian Montone on the eve of the Semi Final.
Asked, if Italy were expecting or aiming to top the pool, he told the Dragflick, that they were pretty surprised themselves.
“We knew we were coming as the lowest ranked team, so the primary focus was only to beat Brazil and steal some points. The plan was to simply finish 5th or 6th. But, then as the tournament progressed, we defeated not only China but also Brazil and finally Malaysia. And now, we are in the semi-finals of the tournament, which is a huge surprise to us as well.” added the ace forward who made his debut in 2015.
While the Italian strikers and drag-flickers have had a field day in all their matches, converting goals after goals, doing the same against Canada will not be easy, specially when Canada have the much experienced Goalkeeper in David Carter guarding their post who has an inspiring 182 International Caps under his belt.
“Yes, playing against Canada will not be easy, but this is a challenge we will embrace. We have structure and confidence in our players.” asserted Julian.
Italy and Canada last met way back in 2015, at the World League Round 2. Ironically, that was also where Julian played his debut tournament.
Julian knows that Canada brings a lot of experience having played in big tournaments like the World Cup, Olympics, Commonwealth games and even the Pan American Games.
“It is not going to be easy like i said. But, if Canada has the experience, Italy has the desire, and we will go all out for it.” Julian concluded.
On 3 May 2019, the Italian Men’s Hockey Team will take on Canada in the First Semi Final match of the FIH Hockey Series Finals at the Bukit Jalil Hockey Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
Action begins at 17:45 hours, Malaysian time.