Potchefstroom, South Africa It was a 3-3 deadlock for Malaysia and Wales in Pool D play on Day 3 at the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup hosted in Potchefstroom, South Africa. Late yellow cards to Malaysia allowed Wales to climb back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game. Despite several chances for Germany, India were able to hold on to earn a 2-1 victory and move to the top of Pool D. Uruguay earned the country’s first-ever victory at a Junior World Cup with a late penalty corner goal over Austria in Pool C. Argentina controlled Korea to cruise to the top of Pool C after a 2-0 win. 

Malaysia v Wales (Pool D) – Potchefstroom, North-West University (RSA)

Two late goals by Wales forced a 3-3 tie with Malaysia in Pool D play. Discipline plagued the Malaysian side as both Nor Isahhidun and Khairunnisa Mohd took yellow cards to give Wales the one-player advantage for 10 minutes in the game.

The scoring opened on a right-side attack by Siti Husain. Husain fed Elizaberth Anak on the baseline and the intended cross ricocheted off the foot of defender Ava Dempsey to beat keeper Ffion Horrell. After a wave of Welsch pressure, the tying goal finally came on a penalty corner just before half time. Heroics came from the captain Isabelle Howell who brilliantly deflected at the far post after a clinical slap from the top by Emily Drysdale.

Malaysia grabbed a 3-1 lead in the third quarter thanks to two goals just four minutes apart from Nuramirah Zulkifli. Horrell stood the test on a penalty corner strike from Kirandeep Gurdip and the rebound from Iren Hussin but a back-hand from Zulkifli finally beat a sprawled Horrell to bring Malysia ahead. Moments later a blast into the circle from Gurdip found an open Nur Azhar on the baseline. Azhar’s pass across the goal was tapped in by Zulkifli for the 3-1 lead.

Nor Isahhidun’s yellow card proved costly to Malaysia as it breathed life into a resilient Welsch side. Betsan Thomas ran the right base line battling through three defenders to set up Jessica Hill for the open-goal deflection and bring their side within one. Hill then deflected a long ball fired into the Malaysian circle but the ball was kept out by the out-stretched boot of keeper Siti Nasir. Fortunately for Wales, Cerys Preston was there to flip the rebound in and tie the game 3-3.

Malaysia’s Kirandeep Gurdip said after the match: “I think we played well. Wales also gave a good fight. We didn’t really convert our goal opportunities and we were lacking at the back. So, from a 3-1 lead for us, it became 3-3. It’s a bit disappointing but we will get back for the next game against India. It will be a really difficult game, but we will try our best to convert the goal chances.”

“It’s never great when you’re going 3-1 down, but Welsh girls don’t stop fighting,” said Stephanie Beaumont, of Wales, after the match. “We go till the very end. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get that one extra goal, but it just shows the hard work of the girls and I’m really proud of them. Germany is a very strong team, but we’re excited for the challenge!”

India v Germany (Pool D) – Potchefstroom, North-West University (RSA)

India did just enough to protect their two-goal lead in the first half and a lot of that credit goes to Player of the Match and Indian keeper Kharibam Bichu Devi. Germany’s Jule Bleuel scored with three minutes to go in the game but it was not enough. The 2-1 win gives India the top position in Pool D with two wins and six points.

A delighted Lalremsiami of India said after the match: ‘I’m happy with what we did today. It was not easy to win such a match because Germany is a very strong team. We played together and never gave up. Malaysia is also a very good team. We will focus on us, as we always do.’

An early penalty corner gave Deepika the flick opportunity, but German keeper Mali Wichmann did well to make the initial save. Lalremsiami was in the right spot, unguarded, and was able to bury the rebound with no pressure to send India ahead. Germany had the chance to draw level after a clever penalty corner variation freed Stine Kurz for a shot and the ball hit a defender’s foot on the line. A diving Kharibam Bichu Devi made the superb glove save on the resulting penalty stroke taken by Jette Fleschütz. India pulled ahead late in the second quarter after a clinical penalty corner execution. The strike from Reet was perfectly deflected at the far post by Khan Mumtaz to give India the 2-0 lead heading into half time.

Outside of one wide blast from India, attack for either team was held to a minimum in the third quarter. Germany continued to try to claw their way back and the pressure fueled Bleuel who stormed her way into the Indian circle. Bleuel put on a master-class individual effort through traffic to bury a back-hand shot in the bottom corner in the 57th minute. Lena Frerichs later had a chance to tie the game but her one-timer fired over the Indian goal. India held on to their 2-1 win and their second victory of the tournament.

German goal scorer Bleuel expressed her frustrations after the match: ‘I’m very sad because we had so many chances and we didn’t use them. So, it’s very frustrating. We’re looking forward to our last Pool game against Wales. We must work on our penalty corners and convert our opportunities.’

Austria v Uruguay (Pool C) – Potchefstroom, North-West University (RSA)

Both Austria and Uruguay, in their inaugural appearances at a Junior World Cup event, were also both on the hunt for their country’s first win at the event. Uruguay found a late penalty corner in the fourth quarter to secure the 1-0 win.

Player of the Match Manuela Vidal was elated after the win saying: ‘We are very happy. It was a tough match, but we won and that’s important for us. We are enjoying ourselves a lot and this is a great experience.’

There were plenty of opportunities as Uruguay showed their South American flare through creative stick skills and exciting changes of pace in the midfield. The Austrian defence stayed composed and the talents of Johanna Czech and Fiona Felber really controlled the game.

There were few chances in the opening quarter outside of a blast from Uruguay’s Agustina Suarez that was saved well by keeper Fabienne Gnehm. Austria had five penalty corners in the opening half but were unable to convert. Maria Bate denied a very promising penalty corner flick from Austria’s Johanna Czech in the second quarter to keep the game scoreless.

In the second half Uruguay dialed it up and had a series of penalty corners. Lena Buchta cleared one off the Austrian goal line. Manuela Quinones earned Uruguay their eighth penalty corner late in the fourth quarter. A great variation for Elisa Civetta to slip the ball left to Pilar Oliveros. Oliveros delivered to Manuela Vida at the far post and gave Uruguay the game’s opening goal. In the dying minutes, a long ball into the circle was booked for a wide open Franziska Frey but the striker was unable to make the trap. Long aerials from Uruguay made it challenging for Austria to press for the equalizer and Uruguay hung on for the well-earned 1-0 victory.

“Of course, it’s disappointing but I think we played good, especially in the first half. We had our chances. We just have to score. If we can’t score, we can’t win. Against Korea, we have to play as good as we did in the first half and score the goals! All these chances we missed, we have to make goals out of them and then we’ve got a chance to win,” added Joanna Czech, captain of Austria, after the match.

Korea v Argentina (Pool C) – Potchefstroom, North-West University (RSA)

Argentina put on a master-class performance of offence but were frustrated by the outstanding play of Korean keeper Eunji Kim to walk away with just a 2-0 victory. The game was played almost entirely in the Korean end with Daiana Pacheco and Valentina Raposo scoring the lone goals of the game.

Pacheco, named Player of the Match for the second time, opened the scoring creating something out of nothing as she crafted her way through traffic to blast the ball past keeper Kim Eunji in just the fourth minute of play. Korea weathered a series of Argentina attacks including four first-quarter penalty corners. Eunji Kim’s pads denied a shot from Juliana Guggini, while Jungu Kim did well at the far post to prevent a deflection and keep the game just 1-0 at the first break.

Nurim Choi seemed to be the lone generator of any attack for Korea, forcing Argentina defenders to desperately break the play down. Korea were able to move the ball well through midfield in spurts but just could not break through into the Argentine 23-meter area. Mariana Pineda drew a penalty corner for Las Leoncitas in the 23rd minute and Raposo’s straight hit from the top made it 2-0. Late in the second quarter Sofia Cairo set up Brisa Bruggesser at the stroke mark but Eunji Kim made a brilliant save to reward the gritty defensive efforts in front of her.

Chances continued to come for Argentina. Sol Pagella hit the outside of the left post on a back-hand shot that Eunji Kim saw the whole way. Korea’s Jugyeong Gwon turned the ball over to give up a penalty corner and that gave Celina di Santo a chance at goal. Eunji Kim yet-again made a great save. Pagella had another quality chance on the back hand but it stayed out thanks to Eunji Kim’s helmet to make it a scoreless third quarter.

Bruggesser had back-to-back shots denied again by Eunji Kim, while Victoria Manuele’s open look at goal deflected high over the Korean goal. Argentina earned their eighth corner late in the game but Raposo’s shot was too high. Despite their lack of finish in the circle, Argentina dominated the game and were able to nab another three points with the 2-0 victory.

Argentina’s Maria Cerundolo said after the match: “I’m really happy about our team performance. We’ve been training really hard for this tournament and I think we’ve been able to implement in the game what we have practiced. We aim to keep improving. Korea was defending very well so it was hard for us to score more goals.”

Korea’s Nurim Choi concluded: “Playing the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup is a moment of glory for me. It’s great to be able to play against teams like Argentina and Uruguay.”

Play resumes tomorrow, 4 April, at North-West University, starting with Pool B’s South Africa vs Ireland, followed by Pool A’s Netherlands vs Zimbabwe and United States vs Canada.

From 1–12 April, the Watch.Hockey app will be live streaming all matches, everywhere in the world.

FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup South Africa 2021 – 3 April 2022

Potchefstroom, North-West University (RSA)

Result: Match 11
Malaysia 3, Wales 3
Player of the Match: Nuramirah Zulkifli (MAS)
Umpires: Ines El Hajem (FRA), Ilaria Amorosini (ITA), Alison Keogh (IRL-reserve)

Result: Match 12
India 2, Germany 1
Player of the Match: Kharibam Bichu Devi (IND)
Umpires: Gema Calderon (ESP), Céline Martin-Schmets (BEL), Ivona Makar (CRO-reserve)

Result: Match 13
Austria 0, Uruguay 1
Player of the Match: Manuela Vidal (URU)
Umpires: Catalina Montesino (CHI), Victoria Pazos (PAR), Rebecca Woodcock (ENG-reserve)

Result: Match 14
Korea 0, Argentina 2
Player of the Match: Daiana Pacheco (ARG)
Umpires: Wanri Venter (RSA), Sophie Bockelmann (GER), Lisette Baljon (NED-reserve)

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