Simply not good enough - those were the sentiments of Irish coach Andrew Meredith as he watched Ireland crash to hosts Argentina in their opening Champions Challenge One pool game at Quilmes.
But disaster struck again, when the Irish went down 3-0 to Japan yesterday, virtually killing off any hopes of qualifying for the 2013 Champions Trophy.
It was Meredith’s first tournament since taking over the coaching reigns of the national squad and to say that he was not too impressed with what he saw would be an understatement.
“It was a disappointing performance overall, with too many inconsistent phases in both halves,” he said.
“There were some real positive phases where we looked good on the ball, but there were far too many technical errors to really stamp our authority in any phase.”
Ireland squandered a two-goal lead thanks to a goal each from John Jermyn and Timmy Cockram. The number 10 seeds, Argentina, were in no mood to roll over and they came storming back to level the game just before the interval.
And they continued to put Ireland under pressure, when Gonzalo Peillat edged the hosts into a 41st minute lead. Even as the Irish went for the elusive equaliser, they just seemed to lack ideas how to prize open the Argentinian defence.
With less than four minutes remaining, Argentina doubled their lead to secure an important opening win but just on the stroke of full time, Ireland pulled one back through Michael Watt but it was all too late.
Ireland needed a better performance against Japan, who are ranked 16th in the World, one place behind the Irish. But disaster struck as Japan took the lead in the 18th minute.
As the second half got underway, Ireland peppered the Japanese circle but failure to convert chances into goals was frustrating the Irish. And, with Ireland pushing for the equaliser, Japan caught them on the hop when Tomonori Ono burst into the circle, to smash the ball off the back boards with 17 minutes to go.
Ireland had no choice but to go full out for goals and again they were punished, this time Kawauchi making it 3-0 to Japan and it would now take a miracle for Ireland to reach the final….but isn’t this the season for miracles.
Meanwhile, former Irish coach Paul Revington, now with Malaysia, saw his side defeat Korea 4-2, to notch up Malaysia’s second win of the tournament. It was a bitter sweet victory for Revington, as Korea knocked Ireland out of qualifying for the Olympics.
Pool A: Korea 2 Canada 0; Malaysia 4 Poland 0; Canada 3 Poland 3; Malaysia 4 Korea 2
Pool B: South Africa 4 Japan 4; Argentina 4 Ireland 3; Ireland 0 Japan 2.