SA set for highest Hockey Junior World Cup finish

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  • South Africa and New Zealand both win in the 9-12 play-off matches
  • Japan and Korea set for showdown after victory in 13-16 games 
  • Competition Quarter-Finals take place on Thursday 15th December

Competition Day 7 proved to be a fruitful one for South Africa and New Zealand, who both recorded victories to set up a meeting in the 9-10 classification game at the Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup Men Lucknow 2016. Japan and Korea were also winners in the 13-16 classification matches, seeing off the respective challenges of Egypt and Canada.

South Africa produced their most complete performance of the competition to defeat Austria 4-2, ensuring that they are now guaranteed of their best ever finishing position at a Junior World Cup. At worst, South Africa will finish tenth, bettering their previous highest finish of 11th, which was achieved at the 2001 event in Hobart, Australia. Austria took the lead with a stunning solo goal courtesy of Franz Lindengrun, but strikes from Matthew de Sousa and Courtney Halle put South Africa ahead at half time. Ryan Crowe made it 3-1 before Leon Thörnblom cut South Africa’s lead to just one goal with ten minutes remaining. However, a 68th minute field goal from Nqobile Ntuli put the result beyond all doubt.

South Africa’s opponents in the 9-10 classification match will be New Zealand, who claimed a 3-1 win over Malaysia to force their opponents into the 11-12 play-off game with Austria. Oliver Logan’s opener for New Zealand was cancelled out by a penalty corner rocket from Malaysia’s Firdaus Omar, but second half goals from man of the match Robbie Capizzi and Sam Lane moved the junior Black Sticks into a lead that they would not relinquish.

In the 13-16 play-offs, a moment of inventiveness from Koji Yamasaki gave Japan a 1-0 over Egypt. The winning strike arrived six minutes after half time, with Yamasaki getting a killer touch on pass from the right of the circle, guiding the ball behind his body to deceive Egyptian goalkeeper Ahmed Adel. Egypt hit the frame of the Japanese goal in the latter stages of the match, but Japan held on to seal a place in the 13-14 classification game where they will face an Asian derby match against Korea, who defeated Canada 2-1. All the goals in that match came in the first half, with a Park Joohan penalty corner arriving ahead of an Oh Seyong field goal before Canadian captain Brandon Pereira bagged a penalty corner to keep his side within touching distance. Canada threw caution to the wind in the dying stages by replacing their goalkeeper with an outfield player, but it was not enough to save them from defeat.

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Thursday (15th December) is Quarter-Final day in Lucknow, with Belgium taking on Argentina at 11:15 (Indian Standard Time) before reigning champions Germany face England at 13:30. Australia play the Netherlands at 15:45 with host nation India doing battle with Spain at 18:00.

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