S Africa men claim their best ever 9th finish at Junior Hockey World Cup

South Africa team produced a superb display to defeat Korea 4-0 and secure their best ever ninth-place finish at a men’s Junior Hockey World Cup, here on Saturday.

With this result, South Africa surpassed their previous best of 10th which was achieved at the Lucknow 2016 edition of the competition.

Their best Junior World Cup finish came via captain Guy Morgan, who produced a Player of the Match performance. Morgan scored two sensational penalty corner drag-flicks, firing high into the net in both the third and fourth quarters, giving his team a deserved lead following a score-less opening two periods.

South Africa hit a third less than 60 seconds after their second, with Trevor de Lora firing home on the backhand before the result was put beyond all doubt seven minutes from the end when Zenani Kraai finished off a superb passing move to complete the match scoring.

“I think we had a bit of a slow start this evening, which was a bit frustrating from our side,” said captain Morgan after the match. “At half time, we worked it out in our heads, got back out there and made things happen, which was awesome. I’d like to say a massive thank you to the organisers, officials and everyone. It has been an amazing experience for everyone,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan, Canada and USA were also winners in their final matches, securing 11th, 13th and 15th positions respectively.

Pakistan proved too strong for Poland in the 11th – 12th classification match, running out comfortable winners against the Europeans in the third match of the day. The Junior Green Shirts exploded out of the blocks, taking a 2-0 lead in the opening six minutes thanks to two penalty corner conversions from Ali Rizwan.

The team from Asia extended their lead to 4-0 ahead of half time, with Moin Shakeel firing home from open play before captain Abdul Rana netted from a penalty corner routine. Poland battled hard and made life difficult for their opponents after the break, with Pakistan only adding one more to their tally thanks to Muhammad Hammadudin’s field goal.

In another match, Canada snatched 13th place with a 2-1 win over Pan American rivals Chile in the second match of the day. Following two scoreless quarters, Canada took the lead with five minutes remaining in the third period when Christopher Tardif netted from open play, with Tanvir Kang scoring what proved to be the decisive goal midway through the fourth and final quarter.

Chile’s Agustin Amoroso bagged a penalty corner with three minutes of the match left to play, setting up a tense finish to the contest. However, it was the Canadians who held on to secure 13th place, their highest finish since the 1985 Junior World Cup on home soil in Vancouver, where they also finished 13th.

On the other hand, USA ended a difficult tournament on a winning note, fighting back from 2-0 down to claim an excellent draw against Egypt before triumphing in the shoot-out to snatch 15th position in the final standings.

The Egyptians opened the scoring inside the first 60 seconds of the match when Abdelrahman Elganayni netted a penalty corner, with the same player doubling the advantage with a 24th minute field goal. Egypt held their two-goal lead until seven minutes from the end of the contest, when Tymen Kloen pulled a goal back from a penalty corner. Incredibly, Kloen struck again with a last-gasp open play effort to force the shoot-out in which the Americans dominated, with Kloen, Finlay Quale and team captain Jatin Sharma all converting to earn a 3-0 win in the one-on-ones.

The Junior World Cup will conclude on Sunday with the four remaining matches being played to settle the final standings and, crucially, determine the next Junior World Cup champions. The day’s action begins with Spain playing Malaysia in the 7th – 8th classification match, followed by the match between Belgium and the Netherlands, the 5th – 6th play-off game. Later, India and France will play for bronze, while the final match between Germany and Argentina will be the last of the day.

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