Islamabad (Sports Desk):-The classification round to decide 9-16 position at the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021 produced four very different matches on Day Six. A closely-contested match saw South Africa overcome a determined Canadian resistance before Pakistan bounced back to overwhelm USA. Chile were undone in the final minute by Poland before Korea and Egypt recorded a thrilling 3-3 draw which led to the sheer agony and ecstasy of a shoot-out that saw Korea break Egyptian hearts.
South Africa 7-3 Canada
It was a cagey first quarter of this match between two teams who were both looking for a first win of the tournament. For the first 15 minutes, Canada and South Africa defended solidly and there was little opportunity for either side to break the deadlock.
The breakthrough came in the 16th minute when Player of the Match Cameron le Forestier scored the first of a hat-trick of goals. All three of his strikes came courtesy of some swift build-up play by the African team, and the striker was on hand to send the ball past Zackary Coombs in the Canada goal.
Following that opening goal it was still an even match with Canada working hard to get back on terms but a second goal from Idrees Abdulla in the 26th minute and then a penalty stroke scored by captain Guy Morgan effectively ended Canada’s hopes of a first win. They did score three goals in a flurry of activity in the final quarter but by then South Africa had scored four more goals, including a second for Morgan, and for Indy Sehmbi’s team it was just too late.
While pleased to have recorded a win in Bhubaneswar, Cameron le Forestier said his team were still seeking consistency in their performance: “We’re still trying to chase that 60 minutes of good hockey. But today I think we just had about 30 minutes. So, till the next game we have to focus on that.
“Regarding my own performance, I think it’s just finding yourself in the right areas and then, when the ball comes to you, just take that opportunity. Our next objective is to make that 9th place finish.”
Canada’s captain Manveer Jhamat said: “I’m really proud of the boys. We were resilient and able to bounce back, so I am proud of our efforts at the end. We are a much better team now than when we came here. There has been a lot of learning and growing as a team. Definitely we’re playing some of the best teams in the world, so it’s bound to making us better.”
The result means South Africa will face Pakistan in the next match as they contest 9-12 place. Canada will play continental neighbours USA as they seek a first win of the tournament.
Pakistan 18-2 USA
There was a chasm of difference between the performances by the Pakistan team and the USA team as the Asian side set out to pick apart their opponents with a clinical precision.
As the Asian side smoothly moved into top gear, the USA athletes gave the attackers far too much room and seemed unable to find a structure of their own for much of the game. That said, USA never stopped trying to find their own groove and Finlay Quaile was able to make the most of two penalty corner opportunities. This was small compensation for the fact that most of the match saw Pakistan dominating play.
The match started evenly, with the USA creating their own chances but when Abuzar scored in the 14th minute, the Pakistan team seemed to reach for a new level of speed, pace and ingenuity. Six goals in the second half put the game beyond doubt but still the Pakistan team poured forwards, exploring every attacking avenue. Captain Abdul Rana scored four goals and the Player of the Match award and he was joined on the score sheet by 11 of his teammates. Pakistan Head Coach Danish Kaleem had been looking for answers after the team failed to deliver in the pool matches and, in this game, his players found the answers.
Pakistan captain and scorer of four goals Abdul Rana said: “We’ve tried to correct all mistakes we did in the previous matches. The main aim was to do less mistakes and play basic hockey. The next couple of games are really important to clinch the ninth position. Today was a good game to boost our confidence.”
Jatin Sharma of USA highlighted the need for his team to find consistency. “In the first quarter we played pretty well. But we have to find a way to keep consistent throughout all quarters. We all get tired but we have to keep working for each other. I think defensively we need to get better focused.”
Poland 2-1 Chile
Chile’s hearts were broken by a last minute goal by Tomasz Bembenek as the forward scored the winner for Poland in the final minute of play.
Daniel Beroggi had given Chile the lead in the first quarter through a well-placed penalty corner before Julian Blaskiewicz brought Poland level.
From that moment the game was played at a ferocious pace as both teams sensed a win was within their grasp. However, it was the calm precision of Bembenek that proved the difference and sees Poland moving on to contest 9-12 place in the next match.
The result means Poland will now play Korea in the battle for a ninth place finish, while Chile will take on Egypt.
“Chile played a really, really good match,” said Player of the Match Tomasz Bembenek. “They had a very good defence. So they created problems for our offensive play. But we managed to score in the last minute and I’m very happy about that. I think we have to score more goals.”
His counterpart Nicolás Abujatum said: “The feeling which dominates now is frustration. We were playing a very good match. We made some mistakes and then we started to lose our heads and that’s what drove us to lose this match. We’ve been improving a lot since the beginning of the tournament but we keep on doing some mistakes that make us lose the matches. So, that’s not a good performance. We don’t get anything from playing good but losing matches.”
Korea 3-3 Egypt (6-5 shoot out)
Egypt’s goalkeeper Mahmoud Seleem can take comfort from the fact that he has enjoyed an outstanding tournament even if his team has yet to record a win. While Egypt has conceded 31 goals so far, with three fired in by Korea today, Seleem has made some remarkable saves, including a save from a penalty strike during this match.
The teams were evenly matched in the opening quarter but Korea began to gain momentum as the game developed. Clever use of the aerial to put the Egyptian defence under pressure saw the African team gradually retreat into their own half and it was only a matter of time before Korea were able to take advantage and fire home two quick chances in the 18th and 20th minute, courtesy of Kim Hyunwoo and Jeong Jun Seong.
If the first half was all about Seleem keeping the Korea attack from extending their lead, the second half was all about the Egyptian comeback. Two goals for Abdeirahman Elganayni and one for Hossameldin Ragab and a penalty stroke save by Seleem meant that Egypt were suddenly not just back on even terms but had moved into a 3-2 lead.
This was not the end of the drama however; with just two minutes left, Korea were awarded a second penalty stroke, which Jeong Jun Seong converted to send the game to shoot-out.
The drama was certainly not restricted to the game itself. The shoot-out was a sheer spectacle of hockey entertainment in itself. Great saves, cheeky overhead shots and a prolonged sudden death shoot-out of nine rounds apiece kept everyone on the edge of their seats until You Seung Ho broke Egyptian hearts as he fired past Seleem to claim the win for Korea.
Korea’s Player of the Match Bae Soung Min said: “The first half we got the two goals but in the second half we didn’t play so well. Egypt were strong but we really wanted to win, so we are very happy with this outcome.
Egypt’s Khaled Elgandy was able to take positives from the match: “If you look at all the matches, there is a trajectory and we are getting better every match. Maybe we lose today, but we played well and we will always play as much as we can until the final whistle of the final match and we will win the next match.”
South Africa 7-3 Canada
Player of the Match: Cameron le Forestier (RSA)
Pakistan 18-2 USA
Player of the Match: Abdul Rana (PAK)
Poland 2-1 Chile
Player of the Match: Thomasz Bembenek (POL)
Korea 3-3 Egypt (Korea win 6-5 shoot-out)
Player of the Match: Bae Soung Min (KOR)