It was a most unusual and historic day at the opening of the EuroHockey Indoor Championships in Prague. Being played under the new Hockey 5’s rules, it was a mixture of tactics which saw teams getting to grips with the instant decisions of playing with 5 attackers, or 4 and a goal keeper or kicking back.
The teams adapted well overall as much work and planning had been undertaken by their coaches and back room staff. The video analysis, no doubt, being critical and analysised at length tonight to see how to interpret the tactics of the other teams and play better to cement not only semi-final places, but a World Cup slot in 2015. The top 6 teams here in Prague will qualify for the prestigious Tournament in Leipzig, so each and every game here is critical.

Belarus – Austria 2-3 (1-2)
Austria was very happy to take the first 3 points on offer with a tight win over Belarus. Belarus who came in ranked 2nd struggled to connect together and Austria were deserved winners.

Poland – France 4-1 (1-0)
Poland was the better team and dominated the play, however France did play some nice hockey especially towards the end of the game.

Netherlands – England 7-0 (2-0)
England with 8 new caps always knew that they had an uphill task on their hands, and the Dutch girls, possibly mindful of pushing for a first place in the Pool, ahead of the Germans, scored at will.

Germany – Czech Republic 10-0 (3-0)
In the final game of the morning session, Germany took their time to settle into the game, but captain Julia Muller was a tour de force! And bagged a nice hat trick!
So the pools were completely open at the end of the first session, and we had hardly caught breathe when the afternoon began.

Austria – France 7-2 (3-1)
Austria consolidated their play and connected well on the break, creating difficulties for the French, less experienced girls. They were delighted to top the group with 6 points and in theory a semi-final place!

Poland – Belarus 3-4 (2-2)
However the Belarus girls were having none of it and their 3-4 win over Poland means that the games in the morning are critical to the final semi-final line up! If Belarus beat France by a margin, then the final game of the Pool Poland v Austria will be critical for the second semi-final place! We shall see….

Day 1 Pool B Ranking
Team          Pl     W    D    L    GF    GA  GD Pts
Austria       2      2    0    0    10    4      6      6
Poland        2     1    0    1      7      5      2      3
Belarus       2     1    0    1     6      6      0       3
France         2    0    0    2     3     11   -8      0

Netherlands – Germany 9-5 (5-2)
In a remarkable historical game, Netherlands beat Germany for the first time ever in a EuroHockey Indoor Championships. The Dutch girls delighted in their win, a well-deserved and well-constructed performance, taking their chances and out playing the Germans. Their 6 points should be sufficient for a semi-final slot, but like the Austrians they too have to wait and see…

Czech Republic – England 4-1 (3-0)
The final game of the day was a rowdy one! For the fans anyway, the players were cool and calm and went about their business in a very fair play spirit as we have had in all the games so far.
Czech exposed the weakness of the English team, who are very fit and better when the game was played at pace, but the Czechs knew how to slow the game down, not lose possession and build their attacks. The partisan crowd was delighted with the win and indeed the performance. So the match Czech v Netherlands, could in theory be a semi-final slot for the hosts! But at the very least they will carry the 3 points from the win v England, should both teams be in the relegation pool.

Day 1 Pool A Ranking
Team                        Pl    W    D    L    GF    GA     GD    Pts
Netherlands           2    2     0    0    16     5         11     6
Germany                 2    1      0   1     15     9         6       3
Czech Republic     2    1     0    1     4     11       -7       3
England                   2    0     0    2    1     11      -10      0

Fixtures tomorrow morning:
Saturday 25th January 2014
09:00B Belarus – France
10:10B Austria – Poland
11:20A Germany – England
12:30A Czech Republic – Netherlands

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Photograph: Dutch team celebrates one of 9 goals v Germany (EHF/Frank Uijlenbroek © )