Korea outpaced Italy (5-0) to win the last available ticket for Beijing, while Ireland won a hard fought game against Canada (2-1) to finish 3rd and Malaysia had to go to strokes to beat Malaysia.
1st-2nd place – Korea v. Italy: 5-0 (half-time: 5-0)
The Final of the WorldHockey Qualifier was played in front of a packed house, including large contingents of very vocal Italian and Korean fans. Korea immediately staked their claim on the Beijing ticket when Mi Hyun PARK batted into net a pass from the end line by Jong Eun KIM. They doubled their tally in the 10th minute with an unstoppable shot by by Seon Ok LEE on penalty corner and put the result of the game beyond doubt one minute later when Hye Jin SEO deflected a ball out of reach of Roberta LILLIU in the Italian net.
The Italians were outpaced and seldom penetrated in the Korean 25. Korea kept playing unrelentingly at full speed, scoring 2 more goals before halftime, including a sumptuous one by Jong Eun KIM at the conclusion of a movement that swept the full length of the field.
Italy tried to react in the second half, earning two penalty-corners, but Korea weathered the storm quietly and were never in real danger. The crowd was kept well entertained by the speed and technical skills of the Korean players, but the Italian defense kept its structure and efficiently protected their net. With time ticking down, Italy pushed desperately to score a consolation goal, however the Korean cruised to a 5-0 victory and could celebrate joyfully earning their ticket for the Beijing Olympic Games.
After a difficult start, Italy held themselves well in second half and were satisfied not only with their performance of the day but mostly to have upset Ireland for a spot in the Final.
3rd-4th place – Ireland v. Canada: 2-1 (half-time: 2-1)
Canada came in the match with the momentum of their good performance the day before against Korea, but Ireland promptly proved that they had rebounded from their disappointment of missing the Final and scored early by Jenny McDONOUGH on penalty-corner. Canada regained their composure and, pushed by the large home crowd, threatened the Irish net but could not capitalize on their domination. Ireland increased their lead in the 26th minute when a cross found Cathy McKEAN at the far post.
Canada had a few fast breaks at the end of the period and forced a penalty-corner in the dying seconds, scored with a hard hit by Stephanie JAMESON, to reach halftime with just a one goal difference on the scoreboard. The second half was balanced, with play swinging back and forth, much to the pleasure of the fans. Ireland had the best chances, first on a penalty-corner, when a deflection by Eimear CREGAN shaved the post with the keeper out of position, then on a penalty-stroke, when Nikki SYMMONS incredibly missed the opportunity to cushion their lead.
The last five minutes of play were very intense, Canada throwing caution to the wind to force the equalizer. The Irish defense was stretched at time, but held on to their narrow lead to win the Bronze Medal.
5th-6th place – Malaysia v. Uruguay: 2-2 (half-time: 1-0 / penalty strokes: 3-2)
The match for fifth place between Malaysia and Uruguay took a long time to find its rhythm, both teams showing signs of tiredness after a week of competition. Malaysia could not control play as they did the day before in the pool match, and their defense was exposed to the quick Uruguayan counter-attacks. It took a penalty-corner deflected by Nadia ABDUL RAHMAN to open the scoring in the 25th minute. Uruguay nearly came back immediately after with an excellent penalty-corner hit that had the Malaysian keeper beaten but hit the post, leaving the South Americans still chasing their first goal of the competition.
Uruguay tried hard to come back in the game in the second half but play was often broken down by individual errors or misdirected passes. They were finally rewarded in the 59th minute when Virginia BESSIO cleverly slotted a penalty-corner over the diving keeper, drawing a warm ovation from the crowd. Malaysia quickly re-established their lead by Norfaraha HASHIM but were reduced to ten players for the last 5 minutes of the match after a red card to Noor Hasliza MD ALI for an unnecessary rough tackle.
Uruguay did not miss the opportunity and took the match into overtime with a penalty-corner by Teresa ALGORTA in the last minute of play. They thought that they had scored the Golden Goal in the 77th minute but it was denied by the video umpire. Uruguay had all the momentum and several clear chances, even more when Malaysia was further reduced to 9 players, but the match had to be decided by penalty-strokes, when Malaysia narrowly prevailed 3-2.
Both teams came in this competition with a roster of young players who held themselves well and earned valuable experience against the higher ranked teams.
This concludes the WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier in Victoria, adding Korea to the list of countries qualified for the 2008 Olympic competition in Beijing. The 12 berths have now been allocated, both on the men’s and on the women’s sides.
Women’s teams qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing: Argentina, Australia, China, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa and USA.
WorldHockey Olympic Qualifier, Women – Victoria, Canada
Results day 6: Sunday 4 May 2008
Korea - Italy 5:0 (5:0)
4mn Mi Hyun PARK (FG) 1:0
10mn Seon Ok LEE (PC) 2:0
11mn Hye Jin SEO (FG) 3:0
16mn Sung Hee GIM (PC) 4:0
23mn Jong Eun KIM (FG) 5:0
Ireland - Canada 2:1 (2:1)
6mn Jenny McDONOUGH (PC) 1:0
26mn Cathy McKEAN (FG) 2:0
35mn Stephanie JAMESON (PC) 2:1
Malaysia - Uruguay 2:2 (1:0, 2:2, 2:2, penalty strokes:3:2)
25mn Nadia ABDUL RAHMAN (PC) 1:0
59mn Virginia BESSIO (PC) 1:1
62mn Norfaraha HASHIM (PC) 2:1
69mn Teresa ALGORTA (PC) 2:2
Final Standings: 1) Korea 2) Italy 3) Ireland 4) Canada 5) Malaysia 6) Uruguay. Korea qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing,
Best Player: Mi Hyun PARK, KOR
Best Goalkeeper: Sarah FORBES, CAN
Top Scorer: Mi Hyun PARK, KOR, 7 goals
Fair Play: ITALY
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