Macedonians upset Germany and force way into Olympic contention
Edmonton (April 5) - Montenegro and Spain won through to the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games Qualification Tournament for men by winning their respective groups undefeated at the Kinsmen Sports Centre here. But the real action on day five was in the second game of the day when Germany forgot to bring its A game against the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. After leading 4-2 early in the third period, Germany’s goals dried up, the extra-man advantage conversion rate was none from eight and the Macedonians smelled blood and went in for the kill.
MKD, thanks to three Miroslav RANDJIKJ goals, including the last two of the game — scored late in the third quarter — held out the hapless Germans and denied them a shot at the quarter-finals with a 6-4 victory. MKD had snuck into the quarters on the strength of that match, finishing with four points, equal to Germany, but finishing ahead on the first tiebreak, the result between the two. A stunned auditorium was left aghast at the result of the 10th-placed team from the Beijing Olympics not having a shot on day six of this competition. Not at London is one thing, but not even in the quarter-finals of the qualification tournament is another.
Greece upsets Germany in critical Group A encounter
Edmonton (April 4) - Greece threatened Montenegro on Tuesday and beat Germany 11-9 on Wednesday, pointing to a second-placed finished in the powerful Group A at the men’s Olympic Games Qualification Tournament at Kinsmen Sports Centre in Edmonton. Greece had the better of the game throughout and stunned Germany with a four-goal margin midway through the third period.
The result was far different from the 9-6 win by Germany at January’s European Championships and heralds Greece’s return to the international stage after a few years in the wilderness. The return of the old stars has spurred the team along and the intensity level was definitely lifted in the game against Germany.
Greece piles the pressure on Montenegro
Edmonton (April 3) - Greece nearly threw a spanner into the works when it came amazingly close to upsetting Montenegro on day three of the Olympic Games Qualification Tournament for men at the Kinsmen Sports Centre here today. Montenegro, playing in Group A, is the raging favourite and expected to dominate the event. Greece disagreed, levelled the game twice in the final and had the final shot of the match on extra-man advantage and sent the ball wide of the post.
It was an amazing game in which the potent firepower of Montenegro was kept in the bunker, mainly through Greece’s stoic defence. Twice in the dying minutes Greece repelled the Montenegro assault, showing that it is a chance come Friday’s all-important quarterfinals, which will decide the final four in London. Montenegro led 2-1, 4-2 and 6-4 at the breaks in a game where Mladan JANOVIC (MNE) and Christos AFROUDAKIS (GRE) excelled with three goals each. Montenegro has won three times and for Greece it was a second one-goal loss in three outings.
Romania heads Greece in see-sawing encounter
Edmonton (April 2) - Romania set its sights firmly on a trip to London after a scintillating 10-9 victory over Greece on day two of the Olympic Games Qualification Tournament for men at the Kinsmen Sports Centre here today. In the “Group of Death” — Group A — Romania made up for a first-day loss while Greece has a first loss after a big start on day one.
The thriller saw both teams take the lead four times. The match was levelled at 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 with the winning goal coming just inside the final three minutes. It was edge-of-your-seat stuff with the over-productive Cosmin RADU claiming four goals for the Romanians and Christos AFROUDAKIS with three for the Greeks. The real story will unfold on quarter-final day on Friday but this was edgy play, high-powered and just the sort of action both teams crave in Olympic year.
Germany strikes major blow in hunt for Olympic berth
Edmonton (April 1) - The hunt is on for the final four places at the London Olympic Games and 11 men’s teams are competing for the honour at the Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Edmonton, Canada. In the massive Kinsmen Centre, host to the 1978 Commonwealth Games for aquatics, competition started in earnest with the loss of one team missing. Venezuela was a late withdrawal through travel difficulties, meaning Canada was robbed of its opening-day clash. However, Germany and Romania provided the best competition of the day in the tough Group A. There is much hype over who will flow through to the Olympics with Group A containing many top contenders.
Germany seemed to have control of much of the match against Romania but allowed Romania to level in the third and get ahead early in the fourth before retaking the lead at 9-8 with 3:37 remaining in the game. Both teams took timeouts but it was Romania who scored to level at 11 seconds on the clock. Germany was not dejected and scored the winner with five second left. Both goals were scored off deflections and German captain Marc Politze was involved in both, first as the defender and then as the scorer of the last goal. In other Group A games, European No 2 Montenegro dispensed with the Netherlands 12-6 and Greece crushed the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 12-2.
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