Host nation Uruguay have shaken the world rankings by finishing at the top of Pool A ahead of Italy at a fascinating Hockey World League Round 2 event in Montevideo.
Uruguay, who currently sit 31st in the FIH World Rankings, claimed wins against higher-ranked Mexico (WR: 28) and Dominican Republic (WR: 52), but it was their opening day performance against 17th ranked Italy that really made the headlines. The home favourites lead twice against their European opponents thanks to strikes from Janine Stanley and team captain Sofia Mora, but goals from Macarena Ronsisvalli and Chiara Tiddi levelled the scores before Uruguay delighted the home crowd by claiming what proved to be a crucial bonus point by winning the shoot-out. Italy finished second in Pool A having also recorded wins against Mexico and Dominican Republic, who finished third and fourth respectively.
Uruguay may have upset the odds in Pool A, but there was no such drama in Pool B as Azerbaijan (WR: 19) topped the table ahead of France (WR: 24). The Azerbaijanis have been in fine form in Montevideo, defeating Trinidad & Tobago (WR: 29), France and Kenya (WR: 37) to head into the quarter-finals on a wave of confidence. 21-year-old Farida Mammadova has been instrumental in Azerbaijan’s success, netting five times to sit alongside Italy’s Giuliana Ruggieri at the top of the goal-scorers table. Trinidad & Tobago finished third in the table with Kenya in fourth having forfeited their first two games due to their late arrival at the event.
The two Pool winners will face the sides that finished bottom of the other Pool, with host nation Uruguay going head-to-head with Kenya while Azerbaijan face Dominican Republic. France versus Mexico and Italy versus Trinidad & Tobago completes Thursday’s quarter-final line-up. To see all tournament fixtures and results, please click here.
The two highest finishers in the eight-team women’s tournament, which started on Saturday 14th and concludes on Sunday 22nd February, will each be guaranteed a place in the semi-final of the competition, where coveted berths at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are up for grabs.
You can keep track of all of the action from Montevideo on the official tournament microsite.