Fantastic semi-finals in the U21 category this morning in Poznan, Poland. Both New-Zealand teams present in semi-finals were prevented from reaching the Finals by France. Great Britain and Germany will try to stop them later in the day.
The first semi-finals took place on Saturday with the U21 categories.
In the U21 Women category, France was opposed to New Zealand. Both teams played good defense, keeping the score at 1-1 for a while before France took the lead in second half. With 5 minutes to go, France got a 2 minute suspension for foul play and had to tighten their defense to face repeated assault on their goal. But the number 2 goalkeeper did a very fine job and France managed to keep the ball in their field safely waiting for their player to come back in the game and launching counterattacks. In the last second, New-Zealand tried an Ave Maria, shooting from a long distance but the goalkeeper was focused and deflected the ball on the bar. French Team Leader Laurent Brossat appreciated his team’s performance:
With a 2 min suspension at 5 minutes from the end, we had to keep the ball as long as possible. New-Zealand pressed us individually to take back the ball and get even so we had to avoid the central axis of the field to keep the danger away.
"I regret we did not manage to kill the game when we had the opportunity to lead 3-1 but overall I am satisfied”. New Zealand’s coach praised his team fighting spirit and their efforts to get the ball back: “We have put our heart and soul trying to get the ball back but the French held the pressure very well. I think an excellent game from both teams”.
In the other semi-final , Germany easily beat Great-Britain 7-3, imposing their domination all through the game. “We had a previous game against Great-Britain in the qualification round and we beat them 8-1 so I knew we had a clear advantage”, said German coach Suzanna Luemkemann. When asked about their next opponent in the Final, she expects a tight game: “We lost against France in 2010 World Championships, so we really want revenge. I am sure it will be a great game. The audience is fantastic here.”
A few minutes later, the exact same national teams were facing each other in the U21 men category semi-finals!
Germany scored only one minute into the game against Great Britain. The British did not give up and came back before being led again 2-1. Germany managed to keep this score through the second half but Great-Britain threw all their strength into the battle and tried to score by all means. 30 seconds before the buzzer, the crowd roared as Great Britain tied thanks to a brilliant counterattack. Germans took a hit and a few seconds later, still dizzy, could not do anything against a last British counterattack. 3-2 for Great Britain at 5 seconds from the buzzer! “What a dramatic ending, said the British coach. I am very proud of the guys. We had to go for it, we wanted to go to the final. The Germans are very solid. We pushed very hard. I decided to take our defenders off and to put an attacking team with all of our best shots. After we tied 2-2, Germans lost heart and we were on the way up and we just took it.”
In the other semi-final, France and New-Zealand did not manage to unlock the scoreboard for the first then minutes. New Zealand scored early in the second half, giving the French one more reason to be nervous. The reigning world champions appeared surprisingly unsteady for long minutes. They proved it by missing a goal to come back at 1-1 when the goal was empty and the attacker alone before it, four minutes before the end of the game. They finally equalized and started to launch counterattacks, obtaining a penalty shot at only 15 seconds before the buzzer. French team leader Laurent Brossat welcomed this victory with relief: “That was much more complicated than we planned. In semi-finals, you sometimes have more to lose than to win. The athletes were tensed and struggled to get in the game, although they managed to stick to their game plan. But it can explain why we did not manage to play as liberated as during qualifications when we beat New-Zealand 5-0”.