India earned a hard fought 3-2 victory against Canada to top the standings with four wins. Poland did not push too much to beat Singapore 11-3, while France had its hands full breaking the Italian defence, in a 3-0 victory.
Poland vs. Singapore: 11-3 (half-time: 3-0)
Poland took time to get into the match against Singapore, working the ball around patiently in the opening stages. Eventually, Szymon Oszyjcczyk opened the scoring in the 9th minute, but it took another 15 minutes for Poland to score its second goal, from Michal Nowakowski.
Poland was it total control of the proceedings but was not in a hurry to score, which could crucially boost the goal difference. Miroslaw Juszczak added a penalty-corner in the dying seconds of the first half ensure that Poland went into the break with a comfortable three-goal lead, but Singapore surprised Poland early in second period when Mohamad Farhan Kamsani, scored on an open play following a lapse in the Polish defense.
Singapore scored another goal later in the period, a strike that finally wokePoland up. Poland then started to play, and score, at a faster pace against a young Singaporean team that faded. The final score was another lopsided one for Singapore, 11-3.
Player of the Match was Waldemar Rataj of Poland.
For more information on POL v SIN, click here.
Italy vs. France: 0-3 (half-time: 0-0)
France entered the match with two wins (against Poland and Singapore) and a loss to host India, while Italy was still chasing its first point after losses against Canada, India and Poland. The French needed a win to stay in good position for a berth in Final on Sunday, and immediately set to the task, pushing the Italians back on their heels.
France was unsuccessful with a series of penalty-corners and were denied multiple times by Davide Guida, who was simply excellent in the Italian goal. Despite heavy domination, the French could not cleanly penetrate the Italian defence, which packed the circle. There was always a timely tackle or block to prevent the final shot, and half-time came without any marks on the scoreboard.
It was the same at the beginning of second period. However, in the 43rd minute, Nicolas Martin-Brisac intercepted a defensive clearance after a penalty-corner and found Arnaud Becuwe in front of the goal. The French captain made no mistake when he smashed the bouncing ball into the goal to finally give France a deserved lead.
Martin Genestet scored soon after and the French breathed a little more easily. France added a third goal through Frederic Verrier, although much credit must go to the excellent Nicolas Martin-Brisac who created the opportunity. Tempers flared a bit at the end of the match, but the French weathered the final Italian push to win the match, 3-0.
Player of the Match was Martin Genestet.
For more information on ITA v FRA, click here.
Canada vs. India: 2-3 (half-time: 0-1)
India was on a roll after winning its first three games against Singapore, Italy and France, while Canada was in a must-win situation because of its loss to Poland. The match started in the usual deafening support from the home crowd and India immediately forced a penalty-corner, but it was well stopped by Antoni Kindler in the Canadian goal, who then cleared to safety.
The Canadians were under pressure but mounted a few swift counter-attacks, the best of which fell to Mark Pearson who was thwarted by Indian keeper Sreejesh Parattu Raveendra. The match became more balanced as time went on; India played with caution, moving forward with speedy individual runs, while Canada was progressing more methodically with patient build-up in midfield.
India scrambled a penalty-corner and Canada started to be more entrepreneurial, under the stewardship of veterans Rob Short and Ken Pereira. But Shivendra Singh managed to steal a ball from a Canadian defender and slam it in past the Canadian goal-keeper to open the Indian tally. Canada pushed for the equalizer in the final minutes of the match, but to no avail, and India went into the break with a narrow one-goal lead.
Antoni Kindler was called into action three times in quick succession in the Canadian goal at the beginning of second period, before Sandeep Singh sank a low penalty-corner flick to push the score to a more comfortable 2-0. Canada intensified their patient build-up and were rewarded when Mark Pearson scored from close range. Immediately after, Canada forced a penalty-corner and Scott Tupper slotted it low to tie the scores.
India had another penalty-corner but Sandeep Singh’s flick was spectacularly countered by first runner Mark Pearson. Tempers flared in the last ten minutes of this very entertaining match, pushing and showing were exchanged, the umpires were having a hard time keeping control of the match and a controversial penalty-corner was given to India, for another goal by Sandeep Singh to rebuild their one-goal lead.
Canada tried until the end to close the gap once more, but ran out of time and India could celebrate their fourth win of the competition, while Canada are now left with a very hard road to reach the Final on Sunday.
For more information on CAN v IND, click here.
Schedule for Friday February 24:
12h00: Italy vs. Singapore
16h00: France vs. Canada
20h00: India vs. Poland
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