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Jackson hopes to avoid video nasty in clash with Germans

 

Upbeat: Ulster’s John Jackson is in positive mood
Upbeat: Ulster’s John Jackson is in positive mood

By John Flack

Ulster's John Jackson says he is a big fan of hockey's video referral system ahead of this afternoon's crucial European Championship clash with Germany in Antwerp.

It's a must-win game for Ireland and, if they can pull off an incredible upset, they will qualify for the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since Jackson played in the bronze medal winning side of 2015 in London.

Lose or draw, though, and Ireland will enter the relegation group following their disappointing 3-3 draw with Scotland on Sunday as they failed to beat a side world-ranked 10 places lower.

Ireland had looked dead and buried in the second half when they trailed 3-1, only to salvage a point after scoring twice through Tim Cross and Shane O'Donoghue in the last five minutes.

O'Donoghue's leveller was steeped in controversy as a penalty stroke was initially awarded, then the decision reversed before being overturned after the umpires requested a video review in which the third official upheld the original call.

Unlike football's VAR equivalent, teams have the right to ask for one video referral over the 60 minutes. If they win the appeal, they keep it, and if not, they lose it.

Jackson believes the system is good for the game, although Ireland lost their referral after only three minutes in Saturday's 5-1 defeat to Netherlands as they unsuccessfully attempted to have the opening Dutch goal disallowed for a backstick.

Jackson said: "I think ultimately it was the correct decision to award us a penalty stroke in the Scotland game and I am a huge advocate of the video referral system when it's done right."

"I was pleased that the officials came to a decision that was in our favour, and maybe the first goal against Holland didn't go our way but it came up trumps for us against Scotland.

"It is what it is and you just have to trust that the video umpire has got the right TV angles to make the correct decision."

The 33-year-old Belfast man, who plays his club hockey for Bath Buccaneers, is adamant Ireland will have to show a marked improvement if they are to beat Germany after a lacklustre display against the Scots.

Jackson added: "We got out of jail at the end but I think on the balance of play, it was a fair result. We were a bit sluggish, and although we created opportunities, we gave them far too many."

"We only started to play with any real urgency and tempo in the last quarter and it was too close for comfort near the end. At 1-0, we should have gone 2-0, but we didn't and that made it a slightly different game.

"There were good elements of control in the game but there were a few moments of indecision and a lack of accuracy when it came to the final pass."

As if to illustrate the task that lies ahead for Jackson and his team today, Germany thrashed the Scots 9-0 in their opening game, but he believes Ireland are capable of defying the odds if they play to their potential.

He said: "It will be a ding-dong battle against them. We had a warm-up game against them out here in Belgium before the tournament and it was a tight enough affair."

"Obviously they are a world-class team. It's a winner takes all game and I know what we are like in these circumstances - we will leave everything out there.

"The point against Scotland was huge for us and at least it gives us a sniff of a semi-final lace, so who knows."

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