(Photo: © Wolfgang Sternberger)
It took until the final match of the preliminary rounds, but the semi finalists at the women’s BDO Hockey Junior World Cup have been decided with four of the powerhouse nations in line to take the title on Sunday.
Read the Summary of each match and view the final Points Table
After Germany and Korea had secured their berth via a top two finish in Pool F earlier in the day, the semi final qualifiers from Pool E were not decided until the last two matches, with Australia and Netherlands surviving an incredibly tight race.
In another incredible round, all six matches in Pool E and F had a direct bearing on the semi final qualifiers, providing an edge to all contests as momentum and favouritism swung from one team to the other throughout the course of the day.
Korea had first chance to clinch a final four berth with victory over India in the first match. However true to the pattern of the tournament, Korea faltered at the final hurdle and needed a goal after the siren to snatch a 2-2 draw.
That result gave Argentina a glimmer of hope in the following match, with a six-goal victory over South Africa enough to vault them over Korea and into the semi finals. Argentina’s efforts received an early setback with a South African goal in the fifth minute to put added pressure on the South Americans.
Despite having more than enough opportunities to push for the required margin, Argentina were unable to find the finishing touch to serious threaten the mark.
Argentina’s failure to overtake Korea left them hoping Scotland produced a major upset with a victory over Germany.
Needing only a draw to qualify, Germany was always in control, scoring early in the first half and dominating play until eventually coasting to a three-goal win. With that result, Germany and Korea became Pool F two semi finalists.
Of the other teams in Pool F, India will again rue missed chances with yet another draw – their fourth in six matches – dropping them to fifth in the Pool behind South Africa and into the playoffs for positions 8-12.
South Africa again played strongly but didn’t have the quality to turn tight losses into a victory.
With Pool F settled, it was Pool E’s turn to take centre stage and it did not disappoint. The first act was Spain against USA, with the winner advancing to their first ever women’s Junior World Cup semi final.
Waiting in the wings was Australia, who knew that a draw between Spain and USA would keep them in contention for the tournament.
After Spain led 2-1 at half time, the match exploded into a second half shoot-out, with USA twice recovering from two-goal deficits before the match ended in a pulsating 4-4 draw.
With that result falling perfectly in their favour, Australia seized the opportunity where others around them had failed, outclassing and outlasting England to claim a semi final spot that seemed a distant dream earlier in the week.
That result eliminated USA from semi final calculations, meaning that result of the final preliminary round match – number 48 for the tournament – would decide the last Pool E qualifier.
Netherlands had to defeat Chile to take their place alongside Australia, Germany and Korea in the final four. Otherwise Spain would sneak through as the Pool’s qualifier.
Netherlands were put through a searching examination before finally breaking down the home team’s defence in the 55th minute and then securing the match with another goal before full time.
The tournament has a rest day tomorrow (Thursday 22 September) before the semi final action on Friday.