A couple of sides can potentially nail down a quarter-final spot on day three of the women’s Hockey World League semi-final in Valencia as the race for the playoff spots ramps up another notch on Saturday.
Perhaps the highlight of this well-matched day is the meeting of Argentina and Great Britain at 5pm with both sides looking to add to their wins from their respective opening games of the competition.
Alex Danson, as so often, was the GB inspiration, scoring one and creating the other goal in their 2-0 win over Spain on Wednesday evening. Whether she can weave her magic again against the world number three Las Leonas is another matter.
They looked in devilish form in their 6-0 win over Canada on Thursday with newcomer Agustina Albertarrio netting three times to announce her arrival on the scene in style. With teenagers Paula Maria Ortiz and Sofia Toccalino also slotting in nicely, they look to be regenerating their panel well.
Games between the two sides are always close with Argentina shading the 2012 Olympic semi-final 2-1 while they also won by a single goal in the Champions Trophy that year.
Elsewhere in Pool A, one of the stories of day two was Spain’s gritty 1-0 win over China, outdoing the world number seven side for the first time since 2006.
It means that they can qualify for the quarter-finals if they get a result against the Pool A basement side Canada who have yet to score in the tournament. The Maple Leafs will look to ace striker Brienne Stairs and Thea Culley to break that duck with Natalie Sourisseau pulling the strings in midfield.
It will be hard work, though, for them to break down a rugged Spanish defence, backed up goalkeeper Maria Lopez de Eguilaz. This tie will be played at 7pm.
Earlier in the day in Pool B at 1pm, Ireland meet Uruguay with a victory for the Green Machine guaranteeing them a place in next Thursday’s last eight. It will be no easy task, though, as the Cimarronas improved their defensive setup massively between games one and two, frustrating a highly ranked USA for long periods.
Goalkeeper Rosanna Paselle and her defence held out 17 of 18 penalty corners conceded and will be looking to tame the likes of Anna O’Flanagan and Nikki Evans – a hat trick scorer on day one against South Africa.
At 3pm, South Africa will be hoping to get off the mark when they meet the US. Sheldon Rostron’s side will look to the likes of Illse Davids and Shelley Russell for the inspiration against a more experienced opposition.
Recent history between the teams has produced a huge amount of goals with US winning 4-2 in the last World Cup meeting in 2014. Two months prior to that, South Africa won 2-1 in Glasgow and they also have a 7-0 win under their belt in recent times – that coming in the 2012 Olympics.
But the US have been on a sharp upward trajectory in the last 15 months and, if they get their corner routine flowing, will cause plenty of danger when Katie O’Donnell and Kelsey Kolojejchick get going.