Top contenders Belgium scored a facile 3-0 win against Chile to tie with Malaysia on seven points but topped the group on goal difference in the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2021 here on Saturday. Former champions Pakistan kept alive their chances of finishing second in Pool D by beating Egypt 3-1.
The proceedings in Pool A ended with Belgium, who were held to a draw by Malaysia on Friday, and Malaysia winning their respective matches. While Belgium defeated Chine 3-0, Malaysia edged South Africa 4-3 in what was a must-win match for the Africans who had three points to four of Malaysia.
Belgium started well and scored in the second minute when Lucas Putters slotted home off a good attack. Thibeau Stockbroekx made it 2-0 in the 27th minute and the young Red Lions made it 3-0 in the 48th minute with Belson Onana converting a penalty corner. Though dominated possession and looked comfortable throughout the match as Chile could not come up with many threatening attacks, Belgium clearly were not at their best as was evident from the fact that they converted only one of the eight penalty corners they earned.
Belgium will thus play the winner of the match between hosts India and Poland while Malaysia take on France, who topped Pool B with an all-win record after recording their third win in the preliminary league by thrashing Canada 11-1. France finished with nine points from three matches.
While France emerged as the surprise toppers of Pool B, all eyes were on South Africa versus Malaysia match as the Asian team only needed a draw to advance.
Malaysia opened the scoring just before half-time when Muhammad Khalid scored in the 29th minute off a penalty corner. South Africa levelled scores within five minutes as Guy Morgan converted a penalty corner of his own to make it 1-1.
With Kamarulzaman Kamaruddin scoring in the 41st minute, Malaysia went 2-1 up only to see Jared Campell scoring in the 48th minute to make it 2-2. The two teams again scored a goal each in quick succession — Shamir Shamsul for Malaysia and Campbell for South Africa — before Anuar Akhimullah scored off a penalty corner with four minutes remaining in the match to put Malaysia ahead.
That goal proved the decider as South Africa could not find the equaliser in the time remaining and thus finished on three points and went out of the tournament with a fighting display.