It took until the last match of the preliminary rounds, but India, Spain and Argentina joined Australia in the semi finals at the men’s Rabo Hockey Junior World Cup after an exciting day in Rotterdam.
After defeating the Netherlands yesterday to knock them out of title contention, Spain received some hospitality from their hosts when the Dutch beat Korea 4-1 to allow their European neighbours to sneak into the semi finals.
In an incredibly tight Pool E, Spain needed Korea to lose or draw to the Netherlands in the final match of the day to advance to the semi finals after they looked likely to miss out after an inferior goal tally compared to India threatened their campaign after both finished level on 12 points.
The Netherlands’s win gave Spain were last remaining spot in the semi finals after Argentina and India had qualified earlier in the day following victories over Australia and England.
Korea got off to a bright start with Sung Kweon Hong converting a drag flick from a penalty corner early in the first half, but the Netherlands dominated the second half to smash in four unanswered goals.
India qualified for the semi final with a narrow 1-0 win over England. After Spain struggled before scoring late in the match to defeat Egypt 2-1, India only needed to defeat England to advance.
Sandeep Singh proved the match winner for the defending Junior World Cup champions with a first half flick from a penalty corner enough to ensure his team would progress to the medal matches. India will now play Australia in the second semi final on Friday, while Spain will take on Argentina in the first.
While Pool E wasn’t decided until the last possible moment, Pool F was a less complicated affair when Argentina confirmed their place in the semi finals, and took top spot in Pool F in the process, with a 3-1 win over Australia in the second match of the day.
Needing maximum points to guarantee their advancement, Argentina looked more desperate than Australia, who were safe in the knowledge that the result of today’s match would only determine whether they finished first or second in the Pool.
For only the second match of the tournament, Argentina managed to find the net more than once, with striker Lucas Vila bagging a double and Manual Brunet scoring in the second last minute to confirm the win.
With Australia’s loss today, Argentina are now the only unbeaten team in the tournament, with a draw with Belgium on the weekend their only minor stumble.
Pakistan ensured they will play for positions 5-8 with a penalty corner variation conversion after the full time siren to defeat Malaysia 2-1. Malaysia only needed a draw to oust Pakistan from third or fourth position in Pool F, but conceded a penalty corner with seconds remaining and then watched as Muhammed Adnan Zakir slid near the right post to guide the deflection past Malaysian goalkeeper Kairul Nizam Ibrahim.
Germany will also play for 5th-8th spot after overcoming Belgium 4-2. Belgium pushed Germany throughout the match and didn’t allow their more favoured opponents to get on top until late in the match.
In Pool G, Mexico finally found the net for the first time on the tournament, but they couldn’t manage to hold Poland, who scored in the final 10 minutes to salvage a 4-4 drew. Poland raced to a 2-0 inside seven minutes but Mexico scored for unanswered goals to lead 4-2 just after half time.
Despite conceding the two second half goals, it was Mexico’s first positive match of the tournament and they will take confidence into their match with Chile on Saturday to determine 15th and 16th places.
In the match to decide 13th and 14th positions, South Africa will play Poland. South Africa continued on their easy run through Pool G with a 7-0 disposal of Chile in their final preliminary round match today.
A look at the semi finalists reveals that no continental confederation has more than more representative, with Pan America (Argentina), Europe (Spain), Asia (India) and Oceania (Australia) all with a chance of winning the Junior World Cup.
European heavyweights Netherlands and Germany both missed the semi finals, with the Germans absence surprising given their strong record at Under 21 level.
There is a rest day tomorrow before the semi finals and classification matches on Friday.
Spain 2 defeated Egypt 1
Goals: ESP – Miguel Delas PC 38m, Jorge Rodriguez PC 67m; EGY – Mahmoud Elbadry PC 40m
India 1 defeated England 0
Goals: IND – Sandeep Singh PC 27m
Netherlands 4 defeated Korea 1
Goals: NED – Tuen Rohof FG 44m, Roderick Reinstra FG 58m, Nick Meijer FG 65m, Wouter Jolie PC 68m
Argentina 3 defeated Australia 1
Goals: ARG – Lucas Vila FG 30m PC 53m, Manuel Brunet PC 69m; AUS – Iain Davidson PC 49m
Pakistan 2 defeated Malaysia 1
Goals: PAK – Muhammad Khalid Mahmood PC 18m Muhammad Adnam Zakir PC 70m; MAS – Zulkifli Mohd Rejab PC 12m
Germany 4 defeated Belgium 2
Goals: GER – Oliver Korn FG 23m FG 64m, Stefan Witte FG 47m, Sebastian Draguhn FG 59m; BEL – Antoine Massion FG 9m, Jeremy Schuermans PC 39m
Poland 4 drew Mexico 4
Goals: POL – Piotr Rozek PC 2m PC 7m, Waldemar Rataj FG 44m FG 60m; MEX – Edgar Garcia FG 17m, Luis Avila FG 19m, Roberto Garcia PC 35m PC 39m
South Africa 7 defeated Chile 0
Goals: RSA – Pierre-Gerard Gendenhuys PC 17m, Matthew McConkey FG 18m FG 28m, Wayne Madsen FG 21m, Marvin Harper FG 41m, Austin Smith PC 55m, Andrew Cronje FG 69m
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