(Photo: © FIH)

Azerbaijan defeated Italy 3-1 due to a great finish and qualified for tomorrow’s final against Japan at BDO Women's World Cup Qualifier in Kazan. Belarus beat Wales 4-1 and play for the Bronze Medal against Russia who dew 2-2 with Japan. Italy and Wales compete for rank 5.

Japan v Russia 2-2 (0-2)
Before this game had begun tomorrow’s encounters were clear. Japan play Azerbaijan in the final, Belarus clash Russia in the Bronze medal match and Italy and Wales will compete for rank 5.

Today Japan gave goalkeeper Yuka Yoshikawa and defender Keiko Miura a rest while goalie Sakiyo Asado and Keiko Manabe were new in the squad. Russia’s goalie Oxana Serezhkina had a break also and keeper Oxana Kataeva played her first match in this tournament. Margarita Drepenkina was replaced by Alina Krasnoperova.

After 75 seconds of play Russia scored the first goal. They won a penalty corner which was converted by Svetlana Grigorieva with a direct shot on goal. Russia kept up their speed and moved to a 2-0 lead. Galina Timshina (4’) received the rebound of Russia’s second penalty corner and tipped the ball in.

In the second half Japan brought three fresh experienced players onto the pitch. They started to take control of the game. In the 46th minute a goal from Natsumi Tameto made the score 1-2 and brought her team back. After this goal Japan were dominating and equalised eleven minutes later. Tameto (56’) scored again when she converted the second attempt of a penalty corner. Afterwards nobody wanted to risk anything which could affect tomorrow’s classification games. Both seemed to be satisfied with the draw which does not change their ranking in the table in any way.

0-1 (2’) Svetlana GRIGORIEVA (PC)
0-2 (11’) Galina TIMSHINA (PC)
1-2 (46’) Natsumi TAMETO (FG)
2-2 (56’) Natsumi TAMETO (FG)

Belarus v Wales 4-1 (4-0)
Due to Azerbaijan’s victory Belarus had no chance of playing in the final. Nevertheless they started with a lot of pressure in their last round-robin match. Only after a few seconds they had their first great opportunity but Yulia Laptsevich missed the empty goal by centimetres. However Belarus took the lead when Yuliya Mikheichyk (4’) won possession near the circle line after a Welsh defender was unable to control the ball. She left goalie Margaret Rees no chance. Soon after Belarus captain Volha Shyntar increased the lead (8’/10’) by scoring twice within two minutes making her the new top scorer in this tournament. Ten minutes before halftime Nadzeya Silitskaya made it 4-0 when she tipped in the rebound from Rees.

In the second half Wales converted their first attack. Emma Batten had a good run towards the circle and passed to Carys Hopkins who guided the ball over the goal-line. A little later Wales won another penalty corner but Tina Evans’ shot hit the crossbar. Not long after the umpires awarded a penalty stroke after the ball touched the body of a Belarus defender on the goal line. Leah Wilkinson’s flick was well saved by goalkeeper Yuliya Lashuk. Nevertheless Wales kept up their pace and created more opportunities. During the last ten minutes Belarus were the stronger team again and deserved the victory.

1-0 (4’) Yuliya MIKHEICHYK (FG)
2-0 (8’) Volha SHYNTAR (FG)
3-0 (10’) Volha SHYNTAR (FG)
4-0 (25’) Nadzeya SILITSKAYA (FG)
4-1 (39’) Carys HOPKINS (FG)

Italy v Azerbaijan 1-3 (0-0)
The situation was obvious; Azerbaijan needed a victory to safely qualify for Sunday’s final. Italy had no chance of playing in the gold medal match anymore because they had lost three games. A victory over Azerbaijan could have earned them a place in the Bronze Medal match.

At the beginning Azerbaijan tried to take control of the game but Italy had some good counter-attacks. After 20 minutes of play Italy won three penalty corners in row. Azerbaijan can thank their goalkeeper Viktoriya Shahbazova that Italy did not score. Shahbazova saved Francesca Faustini’s and Chiara Tiddi’s attempts very well. At the end of the first half Azerbaijan had more ball possession but were unable to create serious opportunities.

In the 39th minute Azerbaijan missed their biggest chance in this game so far. Mi Sun Safarova passed into the circle to Myungsoon Mammadova who deflected the ball towards goal but goalkeeper Paula Calvo playing her first game for Italy in this competition cleared for a long corner. Both goalies have performed well in this encounter. Shahbazova saved another shot from Chiara Tiddi and blocked Italy’s 6th penalty corner attempt. On the other side Azerbaijan’s Khatira Aliyeva (49’) had more luck. She converted their 3rd penalty corner for a 1-0 lead.
In the 61st minute Marina Aliyeva and Myungsoon Mammadova counter-attacked, combined well and increased the lead. Only two minutes later Zhun Mammadova (63’) made it 3-0. 81 seconds before the final whistle Jasbeer Singh (69’) scored for Italy.

0-1 49’ Khatira ALIYEVA (PC)
0-2 61’ Myungsoon MAMMADOVA (FG)
0-3 63’ Zhun MAMMADOVA (FG)
1-3 69’ Jasbeer SINGH (FG)

All action from the BDO World Cup Qualifier in Kazan, Russia can be followed live through the special micro site of the International Hockey Federation (FIH). Please click here for direct access.