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Results from day three of the BDO Hockey World Cup have illustrated the narrow gap that exists between the competing teams, with Korea’s one-goal victory the only decisive outcome from a trio of matches in Monchengladbach.
Following the completion of the day’s play, New Zealand, Pakistan and Spain are locked on four points at the top of Pool A after two rounds, with neither able to claim the maximum points that would have vaulted them to the head of the table.
There were no such problems for Korea however, with the world number eight a surprise Pool B leader with six points after a tight 1-0 win over England in the middle match of the day
Korea have emerged as genuine challengers to Pool B’s fancied teams with a second straight victory moving them into a position of strength in their group.
Having taken the scalp of world number two the Netherlands on the tournament’s opening night, Korea were favourites against England but struggled to create scoring opportunities before finding a path to goal late in the match.
There was a lack of genuine scoring opportunities throughout the match but Korea had the better of play and deserved their victory despite a late rally by England. Their next two matches are highly winnable encounters against South Africa and India before a clash with the home team that might yet determine their semi final fate.
The loss has made England’s task considerably more difficult. They are still yet to meet the Dutch and Germans and will look on today’s loss as a setback in their qualification hopes. A pair of penalty corners chances in the final minute provided the opportunity to snatch a draw but the Korean defence was equal to the challenge.
Korea’s results are a continuation of their strong performances at the World Cup Qualifier earlier this year when they reached the final before being beaten by New Zealand. Similarly, New Zealand’s form has also translated well from the qualifier to the World Cup proper and they were unlucky not to join Korea on two straight wins in their match against Pakistan to start day four.
As it eventuated, the Black Sticks had to settle for a high scoring draw after conceding their lead on three occasions in a bright spectacle. While deserving of a better result, New Zealand’s inability to protect their hard won advantage after creating most of the play and having the match in their keeping with five minutes to go
Pakistan’s resilience to respond throughout the match when faced with a deficit is a quality they will probably need again in the tournament.
With four points after two rounds, both are still in strong contention, however the road to the semi finals now becomes considerably tougher with matches against Australia and Spain to navigate in the week ahead.
Argentina were a much improved outfit and their draw with Spain in the day’s final match not only kept them in touch with the Pool A leaders, it also prevented their opponents tonight from taking a clear lead at the top of the table.
Spain has a chance to take control of the group but conceded the equaliser midway through the second half to drop them back into a tie with two others.
Tomorrow, Germany return to the pitch after a three-day absence for a pivotal battle against arch rival the Netherlands.
With the Dutch having already recorded a loss, they cannot afford to let the teams above them extend their lead.
Day four is already a sell-out with other matches including South Africa and India, New Zealand and Japan, and Australia and Argentina.
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