Pool B sees 2009 Vice-Champions take the lead after the first round of matches
The action at the ERGO Junior World Cup in Mönchengladbach kicked off this morning. Argentina, one of the favored candidates for the title, defeated their fellow Pan American opponents 4-0 for a comfortable lead in Pool B. Thanks to a last-minute goal from Quanita Bobbs South Africa still secured one point when drawing 3-3 with China.
Argentina v Canada 4-0 (3-0)
Argentina imposed themselves early, making good use of a penalty corner as Agustina Habif at the left post slapped a rebound into the net to lay the foundation for the Leoncitas' victory. Roberta Werthein went on to secure the lead, doubling the lead with a soft touch on a high ball into the circle in the 15th minute, and piling on another just as the first half ended.
In the second half, Canada had a greater share in play than in the first, but struggled to create danger. At the other end, Lauren Logush in the Canadian goal made a few great saves to contain the scoreline. The Canadians couldn't avoid a fourth goal however when Agustina Albertario batted a high ball into the circle into the back of the net with eight minutes on the clock.
The match ended with a well deserved win for the Leoncitas, despite a good performance from Canada. Argentina leave no doubt that they are a contender for the top in this tournament.
Voices after the match:
Santiago Capurro, Coach Argentina: "In the first World Cup match, a win was very important. The girls seemed pretty nervous, but all in all, they did a good job."
Ian Rutledge, Coach Canada: "Aside from the result, the performance was solid. We don't want to focus too much on the result, it was a nervous start, but I think the performance was good. The girls worked honestly, and their work was the most impressive aspect of the girls today and I think it will be better tomorrow. Germany always has good tournaments and it's great to be here."
South Africa v China 3-3 (0-2)
Thanks to a last-minute goal from Quanita Bobbs, South Africa secured one point when drawing 3-3 with China in Pool B. Earlier, China had given away a 2-0 and a 3-1 lead.
Although the South Africans have five players with senior experience in their team, the young Chinese girls were the dominant side in the first half. China won two penalty corners early in the match but failed to score from either of them. Their biggest scoring opportunity came in the 23rd minute when Liu Yuyue’s attempt hit the post. However, Sun Jing eventually took the lead for China a few seconds later.
South Africa created a promising scoring opportunity towards the end of the first half when Jacinta Jubb won her team’s first penalty corner. The flick was taken well but China’s goalkeeper Ye Jiao saved the ball with her glove.
Three minutes before the halftime whistle Lui Meng performed very well in the South African circle defeating several defenders and eventually goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande to double the Chinese lead.
Pushed forward by their fans, South Africa had a powerful start into the second half with team captain Izelle Lategan getting her team on the scoreboard. Shotly after, the African champions were close to equalising but the Chinese defence stood strong. Suddenly, it was China scoring against the run of play. Zhang Jinrong converted a penalty corner in the 51st minute to secure a convincing 3-1 lead.
However, South Africa struck back again when Suléke Brand scored from a penalty corner variation. The equaliser came from another penalty corner awarded in the last minute of the match. Bobbs, one of the five players with senior experience, smashed the ball into the goal with the final whistle.
Voices after the match:
Lindsey Wright, Coach South Africa: "This is the first major competition for my team. We are a real fighting team. We came from a goal down, the girls showed very good spirit today, and I'm very proud of them. Everbody's hockey career should have a moment in this stadium, because it has a lovely atmosphere."
Xu Dong Guo, Coach China: "Most of our players are under 18, so they have little experience, especially in international matches, so we are learning. We think we can do better."