Wales stun France as Argentina, India register comfortable wins
The 9-12 and 13-16 classification matches are set as South Africa, Wales, Argentina and India register wins in the first round of classification matches to head into the 9-12 playoff matches while losses for Malaysia, France, Chile and Japan see them go to the 13-16 playoff matches. All classification matches will take place on 28 January at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela.
Match 1: South Africa v Malaysia 6-3
Malaysia were quicker off the blocks with form man Faizal Saari managing to get a shot in the circle inside the first minute, but South Africa survived that early chance and started to get in the game on counter attacks. They got the first goal through Bradley Sherwood who attacked a cross from the left by Nqobile. With the impetus now on Malaysia, they tried to press higher up the field, allowing South Africa to play on the counter, which is their preferred style. South Africa won 6 penalty corners in the first half and managed to convert one in the 17th minute as Guy Morgan pounced on the rebound after Eustice’s flick was blocked by the first rusher. They added a 3rd in the 26th minute through Nqobile to cap off a perfect half.
Malaysia got the early goal they desperately needed at the start of the 3rd quarter, with Razie Rahim finding the mark from a penalty corner. South Africa got the next goal of the game as fabulous work by Mvimbi required the easiest of touches from Keenan Horne in front of the goal to restore South Africa’s 3 goal lead. A minute later South Africa extended the lead further as Mustapha Cassiem dispatched a penalty stroke won by Mvimbi. With just one second left in the 3rd quarter South Africa conceded a penalty stroke and Rahim scored his second of the game to reduce the deficit back down to 3. South Africa and Malaysia traded one late goal each as South Africa ran out winners to advance to the 9-12 place playoffs while Malaysia will play in the 12-16 place classification match.
Nqobile Ntuli was awarded player of the match and said: “We were disappointed to not progress to the top-8 after the pool stage, but we reset our targets for the second part of the tournament and we executed our plans to meet those targets today, so we are happy with that.”
Match 2: Wales v France 2-2 (SO: 2-1)
France were the higher ranked team in the match-up, but Wales looked like the more likely team to score early in the game as they committed a bulk of their players into the attack. They were rewarded for their adventurous play as a quick move from the left by James Carson left the French defence exposed and his cross was deftly touched into the goal by Luke Hawker. France equalised with 6 seconds left in the opening quarter as Draper turned over possession in a dangerous position and van Straaten found Sellier who scored to bring France level. Pieter van Straaten and Sellier connected again quickly after the break to give France the lead, with Sellier getting his second of the game. Gareth Furlong equalised for Wales, converting on their 4th penalty corner of the game as the teams headed into the break on level terms.
No goals were scored in the third quarter as both teams struggled with clinicality in the opposition circle. France won 2 penalty corners in the 3rd quarter and two more in the final quarter but a combination of sloppy stopping at the top of the circle and captain Victor Charlet’s inability to find the target meant the score stayed level and the teams headed into a shoot-out.
France struggled in the shoot-outs, with Clement the only scorer from their 5 attempts as Reynolds-Cotterill stopped the other 4 French attempts, while Benjamin Francis and Rupert Shipperly scored 2 of the 4 attempts, and that was enough to see them over the line.
Gareth Furlong was awarded player of the match and said: “It has been a good tournament for us and this is the highlight. We had a tough group but we played well against India in the previous game, so we knew we could get a result here today. We were confident in the shoot-outs, we qualified for the World Cup with a shoot-out win and having Toby in the goal helps too.”
Match 3: Chile v Argentina 0-8
Chile started their game against South American rivals Argentina, looking to attack and had two early circle penetrations, but it didn’t lead to shots. Argentina slowly got into the game and started to dominate possession in the Chilean half. Their first goal for Argentina came from Nicolas della Torre through a penalty corner. The goal seemed to deflate the Chilean team as Argentina started to dominate in attack. Before the halftime whistle went, Argentina had added 4 more goals to take a huge 5-goal lead into the break.
Argentina kept up their high press to start the second half and Miaco Casella scored the goal of the game, getting in front of his marker and the Chilean keeper in the circle and deflecting a cross between his legs, with his back to the goal, that nutmegged the keeper and crashed into the goal. Martin Ferreiro and Tomas Domene added two more goals for Argentina in the final quarter of the game to push the final score to 8-0, earning Argentina a great win after the disappointment of the loss in the crossovers to Korea.
Maico Casella was awarded player of the match and said: “It was good to get a big win today after the disappointment of losing the crossover match. We were good going forward and managed to score plenty of times, so happy with the overall effort from the team.”
Match 4: Japan v India 0-8
Japan and India played an even contest in the first quarter with both teams showing offensive intent but neither team could manage to create a clear scoring opportunity. India had the best chances through 2 penalty corners, but they were well chased down by the Japanese rushers. The second quarter was much of the same as both India and Japan found ways to get into the opposition circle, but were instantly hounded by opposing defences. Both teams earned penalty corners early in the second quarter as well, but the rush defences from both sides reigned supreme as the teams headed into the break on 0-0.
India won an early penalty corner in the second half and they went for a variation on the far post with Amit Rohidas passing to Mandeep who lifted the ball over the keeper and into the net to open the scoring for the hosts. India scored a quick second goal, as a poor turnover in their own half by Japan gave Manpreet the ball and he found Abhishek in the circle who had all the time and space needed to calmly score on the reverse. Vivek then added a 3rd goal for India as the Japanese defence seemed to buckle under the constant pressure applied by a rampant Indian attack. Abhishek scored his second and India’s fourth goal in the 44th minute, bringing up the 200th goal of this World Cup. India scored 4 more goals in the final quarter as Harmanpreet (twice) and Sukhjeet found the target from penalty corners, while Manpreet Singh scored a field goal that deflected in off a Japanese stick, to give India a huge 8 goal win, scoring all 8 goals in the final 30 minutes of the game.
Abhishek was awarded player of the match and said: “Very happy with the win, scoring 8 goals in the second half will give us a big boost for the next game as well.”