World Cup of Pool – Belgium and Austria Shock the Giants

A jubilant Noel Bruynooghe

THERE WAS a night of shocks in store for the capacity crowd at the World Cup of Pool at the Outland Nightclub in Rotterdam, Holland as first the Swiss duo of Marco Tshudi and Dimitri Jungo overturned a 5-2 deficit to dump Rodney Morris and Corey Deuel of Team USA out of the competition and then the plucky Belgian duo of Serge Das and Noel Bruynooghe produced a stunning upset to KO the fancied Taiwanese team.

Both sides were huge outsiders but found the necessary heart and skill to overcome what was on paper superior opposition and book quarter final spots.

Switzerland will tee it up against tomorrow against Finland for a spot in Sunday's semis while Belgium will now really fancy their chances against Canada.

The other second round match saw the English pair of Daryl Peach and Imran Majid lose to a Finnish side of Markus Juva and Mika Immonen 8 - 5, who improved considerably on their first round showing.

BELGIUM have produced one of the biggest shocks in recent years by defeating Taiwan in the 2007 World Cup of Pool.

They beat Taiwan 8-6 to the delight of a packed, partisan crowd at the Outland Nightclub in Rotterdam, Holland.

The Belgian side of Noel Bruynooghe and Serge Das, ranked 46th and 60th in Europe respectively, defeated the Taiwanese side of 2005 World Champion Chia-Ching Wu and Ching-Shun Yang, a former World Championship semi-finalist.

Already this tournament there had been a number of shocks, including Germany losing to Singapore and USA going out to Switzerland but this victory eclipsed those performances and must be regarded as the greatest upset in World Cup history.

Taiwan, who were priced at 1-33 ON by bookmakers Stan James to win the encounter, won the lag comfortably and cruised into an early lead.

Bookmakers had written off Belgium as no-hopers in this match, although there were a large number of Belgian supporters in the audience hoping the so-called experts would be wrong.

The Belgian fans soon had something to cheer about as Wu scratched and the Europeans did the rest to make it 1-1.

Belgium ran through the third rack to lead 2-1 and it could have got even better for them but Das missed a 2-9 combination in the fourth after a fine positional shot from his partner Bruynooghe as Taiwan made the score level.

A missed orange five from Bruynooghe in the next helped Taiwan regain the lead and they then took full control.

They stepped on the gas and raced into a three-rack advantage, despite Wu scratching in the first of these three.

However, Belgium had shown they were no pushovers by thrashing Holland B 8-2 in the first round. They were putting up another fight by winning the next two to make the scoreline 5-4.

Bruynooghe produced one of the shots of the tournament to pot the 1-ball with the jump cue after the cue ball hurdled the 3-ball. But his team-mate Das then failed to sink the 2-ball and Taiwan moved two ahead at 6-4.

It did not last long as Yang scratched off the break and a 5-9 combination from Das brought them to within one once again at 5-6.

It became 6-6 after Wu undercut an attempt on the blue 2, while a stunning long 3 pot in the next took Belgium to the hill.

The clock ticked into the early hours of Saturday morning but no one was leaving as every successful shot from the Belgians received a large cheer by a crowd who were realising they were watching something very special.

Yang then messed up a safety attempt on the 1-ball and he had his head in his hands as he realised his side were only a few balls away from being eliminated.

Noel Bruynooghe sunk the decisive 9-ball as he and partner Serge Das leapt in delight as they had recorded one of the biggest shocks ever in world pool.

The American side of Rodney Morris and Corey Deuel were hotly-fancied to win the event but were dumped out by young Swiss stars Marco Tschudi and Dimitri Jungo.

USA only just scraped into the last 16 after a hard-fought 8-7 victory against Malta in the best match of the tournament so far. The American duo of Corey Deuel and Rodney Morris were 7-4 down and had to run out four successive racks to move into the next phase.

Their opponents tonight were Switzerland (Dimitri Jungo and Marco Tschudi), who had looked unconvincing in a nervous, mistake-filled 8-5 victory over Hungary on Thursday.

With both Holland teams already eliminated from the tournament, Morris and Deuel decided to wear orange shirts, a colour normally associated with Dutch sides.

It was a scrappy opening rack as every one of the four players missed at some stage. But the crucial error came from Jungo who failed to sink the red 3 but it then got worse as the cue ball slumped into the right side pocket.

With ball-in-hand, it was a routine task for USA and a 5-9 combination from Morris gave them an early lead. Morris and Deuel, who both represented USA in the 2006 Mosconi Cup, comfortably run out the next rack for an early 2-0 lead.

However, Switzerland soon got on the scoreboard when they profited from an error from Deuel who missed an attempt at the blue 2 into the bottom left pocket.

Switzerland ran out the fourth rack to make it 2-2 and it looked like being another tight match for the second seeded Americans.

In the fifth, Tschudi laid a tough-looking safety and Deuel did well to hit the 1-ball but left it in open table as the Swiss had another chance to win a rack. But they did not take it as Tschudi dogged an effort on the brown 7 and Team America gratefully grasped to opportunity to steal the rack for a 3-2 lead.

The Europeans were back at the table in the sixth but Jungo missed a bank shot on the 1-ball before Tschudi later failed with a one-rail kick shot escape after a fine safety. That helped USA restore their two rack advantage for 4-2.

They cruised through the next to make it 5-2 and only three away from a meeting with either England or Finland in Saturday's quarter-final.

The Americans seemed to take their foot off the accelerator with a number of sloppy shots to keep Switzerland in the match. Both Deuel and Morris passed up opportunities to down the orange 5 and that enabled Switzerland to win their third rack of the match.

It was proving to be a much tougher proposition than expected for the Americans and with the winner-break format it meant Morris and Deuel would have to stay in their seats and wait for another chance.

The ninth went all Switzerland's way as the scoreline narrowed to 4-5, the closest it had been for the last 20 minutes.

But there was to be another twist as Switzerland inexcusably lost position with only the 7, 8 and 9-balls left on the table in the tenth to gift America control once more and a 6-4 advantage.

It did not last long as once more the balance of the match turned in what was proving to be a thrilling encounter for a large crowd at the Outland Nightclub in Rotterdam, England.

USA lost position and again had to sit, watch and hope. They would have been sweating a bit more after Switzerland claimed the 11th rack to trail 5-6.

The Swiss team seemed revitalised and a thin cut from Tschudi to deposit the 6-ball helped set up another rack, their fourth in five, to make it 6-6. In effect, the match was now a race to two.

A huge shock was now on the cards and a faultless Swiss rack saw then run out from the break to move to the hill and only a few minutes away from a potential memorable win.

With the 1-ball going down on the break and the 2-ball over the bottom left pocket, it was within touching distance for the Swiss and they held their nerve as Dimitri Jungo sunk the final 9-ball of the match for an 8-6 triumph.

The Finnish duo of Mika Immonen and Markus Juva fought back from 3-1 and won five racks in a row on their way to an 8-5 victory.

They will now meet 15th seeds Switzerland, surprise winners over USA earlier in the evening, in the quarter-finals on Saturday evening, while Daryl Peach and Imran Majid will be on their way home.

Immonen won the lag for Finland but with no clear shot on the 1-ball after the break, Juva was forced to play safe.

However, England soon got themselves in a good position and the team of Majid and Peach moved 1-0 ahead as Majid sunk the 9-ball for a fine start for the English side.

It got even better for them as they raced through the second rack with the Finnish duo remaining glued to their seats. Peach and Majid had not put a foot wrong so far and deservedly led 2-0.

Peach got a stroke of luck in the third as a misjudged safety left the 2-ball on the side rail, but the cue-ball rolled well for England and ended tight behind the 5-ball. That forced a mistake from Markus Juva and he left a tough, but makeable 2-4 combination.

Majid decided to attack and attempt the combination but it went wrong to give Immonen a straight-forward 2-ball into the right side pocket. That led to Finland recording their first rack of this match.

There was a good piece of sportsmanship from Immonen in the fourth as he was aiming for the 2-ball but instantly got up and admitted he had clipped the 9-ball before hitting the blue 2.

Television replays showed the slightest of contact on the 9-ball but Immonen deserves some credit for his honesty. However, it did his team no favours as England went on to win the rack and reclaim a two-rack advantage at 3-1.

Finland's Markus Juva looked to be attempting to play safe in the next with the 1-ball near the top rail, close to the 9-ball. But Juva made a heavy contact on the 1-ball and the cue-ball cannoned into the 9-ball, which then crept down table and disappeared into the bottom left pocket.

It looked like a massive stroke of luck, but it was a shot that Juva later claimed had been fully intentional.

England had done little wrong, but Finland ran out the next to make it 3-3, in a contest that could go either way.

Finland took the lead for the first time by winning the seventh. Juva had given England an opportunity when his rolled shot on the blue 2 hit the knuckle of the left side pocket. Peach tried to bank the same ball into the right side pocket but was unsuccessful as Finland took advantage for their third rack in a row.

The decisive moment in the eighth came when Majid, attempting to play a kick shot off the bottom rail to hit the blue 2, got his effort completely wrong as he was left shaking his head in disbelief with Finland gaining ball-in hand.

Finland did the rest and the match had completely turned from 3-1 in England's favour to 5-3 to the men from Northern Europe. That soon became 6-3 as Finland ran out for their fifth rack in a row as shell-shocked England were left praying for another chance.

It came. And England gratefully grasped their opportunity by winning the tenth as Majid sunk the 9-ball, but the English still had a lot of work to do if they were to win this match.

But they were keeping it interesting as now it was the Finland players' turn to stay sitting down. Majid and Peach ran through the next to pull it back to 5-6 with good position in the next.

That counted for nothing though as Peach lost the cue-ball going from the 6 to the 7 and that forced Majid to get the jump cue out. He cleared the problem 8-ball but failed to sink the 7, which was left on for their opponents who then moved to the hill at 7-5.

Just when they needed it, Finland got another huge slice of good fortune. Juva, with the cue ball tight on the side rail, watched his attempt at the 2-ball miss its original target of the top left pocket, but then slide into the right side pocket.

That was it, the game was effectively over and former World Champion Immonen did the business to send the 9-ball down and England out of the World Cup.