Argentina vs Spain
12 – 3 1/2
Argentina defeat Spain to top Group A
Argentina continued their dominating run in the FIP Word Championship at Sydney Polo Club on Tuesday with a convincing second victory in Group A, defeating Spain 12-3 ½ in a stop-start game on the Supremo field.
In a five chukka match that lasted two hours, owing to three falls – on two occasions players went “over the handlebars” on unfamiliar horses going for neck shots – and tack stoppages, Argentina produced another resounding display with their 15 goal team, conceding ½ goal on handicap.
Argentine coach said the game lacked rhythm but their strategy continues to be to play fast, open polo, which seems possible with the horsepower provided and what he described as the “amazing” condition of the fields.
The winner of each group progresses to Sunday’s final, and the win – after their opening triumph over USA in the tournament opener – sees the two-time champions continue their command of Group A with only hosts Australia in their way.
Spain, led by Pelayo Berazadi Rozpide, started the game in promising fashion and looked to be holding the Argentine ball players in the opening exchanges. A beautiful shot from distance by Rozpide reminded Argentines that Spain were only narrowly beaten by Australia in their first game.
The first chukka ended 2-2 before the South Americans began to dominate, scoring ten unanswered goals in the final four chukkas.
The throw-in count at the final whistle was 14-4 to Argentina, but many of those were not clean wins, perhaps indicating the Argentina player’s ability to win the tight plays. Only captain Berazadi Rozpide possessed the awareness and stick-work to keep the ball away from the swarming Argentines. He later said “they are four great players that play at a very high speed and we could not compete for more than one chukka.”
Spanish coach, Argentine Diego Araya said Spain’s objective before the tournament was to rank third or fourth place. He then went on to say “Of course it’s difficult to match Argentina when they have so many players to choose from. Most of these players are used to playing a much higher level of polo,” he added.
Most would not argue with that assessment. Argentina will take some stopping – but never write off a host nation.