Malaysia produced a magnificent defensive display to cause a big display by holding strong contenders Belgium to a 1-1 draw even as six-time champions Germany and the Netherlands claimed their second victories of the event and joined France in the quarter-finals of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup on Friday.
On the third action-packed day, South Africa and Korea won their respective matches to maintain their chances of making it to the knock-out phase.
Malaysia bagged the honours on Day 3 as they came up with a lion-hearted effort to hold Belgium, with goalkeeper Shamir Shamsul producing a Player of the Match performance to earn his team what could be a precious point in their quest for a quarter-final berth.
The result sees both teams move onto four points, one point ahead of South Africa going into the final round of pool matches.
Belgium were dominant but fell behind on the stroke of half-time when Amirul Azahar fired home a penalty corner rebound. The Europeans had to wait until the fourth quarter before finally restoring parity, with Thibeau Stockbroekx slamming home a brilliant penalty corner effort – the only time they managed to beat the superb Shamsul – to ensure the points were shared.
Belgium captain Dylan Englebert said: “We wanted to win this game. It was not an easy game, they defended really well. Their keeper had a good game and they defended hard. We maybe lacked a bit of luck at the end. We were happy to come back at 1-1, but we wanted to score that last goal but it didn’t come today. Now we have a small amount of time to prepare for our next game [against Chile], so our focus is on that now.”
A dramatic late penalty corner from Miles Bukkens gave the Netherlands a second successive victory, beating Spain 3-2 to guarantee their safe passage through to the competition quarter-finals. A thrilling contest saw the Dutch open a 2-0 lead thanks to first-half goals by Sheldon Schouten and Guus Jansen, with Spain dragging themselves level in the third quarter through Borja Lacalle and Pau Cunill.
Bukkens netted the winner with just one minute of the match remaining, giving the Netherlands six points from their opening two matches in Bhubaneswar.
In a Pool D match, Germany survived a frenetic final few minutes to claim a 3-2 win over former champions Argentina, moving onto six points and guaranteeing a place in the quarter-finals.
Mateo Poljaric and team captain Benedikt Schwarzhaupt gave Germany, the six-time Junior World Cup champions, a two-goal lead before Bruno Stellato’s penalty corner halved the deficit midway through the third quarter. Hannes Müller restored the two-goal cushion on the stroke of quarter-time, but Franco Agostini breathed new life into Argentina’s chances. However, it was not to be, leaving Argentina needing to defeat Pakistan in their final pool match to confirm their place in the last eight.
In Pool A, South Africa maintained hopes of reaching the competition quarter-finals, bouncing back from Wednesday’s defeat against Belgium to claim a comprehensive 5-1 triumph over Chile. South Africa face Malaysia on Saturday knowing that a victory could be enough for a place in the last eight.
Idrees Abdulla’s early goal gave South Africa a 1-0 lead that they did not extend until six minutes into the third quarter when Peter Jarvis doubled the advantage. Chile hit back almost immediately thanks to Aguastin Amoroso’s penalty corner, but strikes from Cameron le Forestier (2) and Jacques van Tonder put the result beyond all doubt.
Like South Africa, Korea were also beaten on their opening Pool C match – losing 12-5 in a bewildering clash with the Netherlands – but showed real character to claim a 5-1 victory over the USA, maintaining their hopes of a quarter-final berth.
First-half goals from Lee Seungwoo, Jeong Jun Seong, and Hwang Gyudong put the Koreans in control, with Kim Taeho’s second quarter double being split by a field goal from USA’s Wyatt Katz.
Korea need to defeat Spain in their final pool match to guarantee a place in the competition knock-out phase.