It wasn’t where they would have wanted to finish at the start of the tournament, but Belgium were nevertheless pleased to secure a consolation ninth place at the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The fifth-ranked side had to work hard for their 2-1 victory over South Africa in their final playoff game.
In the other playoff matches of the day, New Zealand secured 11th spot after a nail-biting shootout victory over hosts Malaysia while Korea withstood a late Egyptian fightback to hold on for a 4-3 win and 13th place. And Chile claimed their first victory of the tournament (4-1 v Canada) to avoid bottom spot.
Here is how all four matches played out on Day 11…
Canada vs Chile (Full-Time Score: 1-4)
The lowest-ranked side in the tournament, Chile, dominated all the stats in their 4-1 win over Canada. Chilean captain Sebastián Wolansky converted from their fourth penalty corner, and Joaquín Muñoz extended the South Americans’ lead with an exquisite drag flick, launching it high over the post-man. Canada managed to claw one back, Ravpreet Gill shredding Chile’s defence apart and setting up Robin Thind for a tap-in, making it 2-1 at the break.
Canadian keeper Armaan Bagri made an excellent stretch to feather Felipe Richard’s shot past the post and keep the third quarter goalless, but Richard tapped in from a long cross in the fourth quarter to stretch the Chileans’ lead. Canada pulled their keeper off to chase the game, but conceded a penalty stroke following a desperate tackle in front of an open goal. Wolansky converted to ensure the win and 15th place for Chile.
Player of the match for Chile was captain Sebastián Wolansky who said: “I’m very happy with the final score. It’s what we want. We wanted the wins before but we didn’t make it, so I’m very happy with this last one and we leave the tournament really feeling good.”
Egypt vs Korea (Full-Time Score: 3-4)
Korea survived a late surge from Egypt to secure a 4-3 win and 13th place in the tournament. The Koreans controlled the opening half, but Mahmoud Hussin saved a penalty corner to deny them a goal before the match came alive after 26 minutes. Egypt scored first, Said Kamal deflecting in from a recycled penalty corner. Korea hit back immediately, however, with Jiho Choi delivering a scorching finish after a 30m run, and Hoyun Ryu then adding a penalty corner to take his side into the half-time break 2-1 up.
Korea extended their lead in the third quarter, Dohyun Lim bulleting a penalty corner home off a brave Mohamed Hosni on the post. Egypt found another gear though, hitting back with a Hossameldin Ragab goal off a penalty corner, and then almost drawing level through Hussain Awad who was denied by Sookyo Kim coming off his line. Bassem Mokhtar did then level matters from a penalty corner rebound in the 51st minute, and Awad was again denied by Kim coming off his line. The Koreans left it to the 59th minute to clinch the match, Lim scoring the winning goal with a drag flick against three defenders after two Egyptians had broken early.
Player of the match was prolific Korean goal scorer Dohyun Lim.
Malaysia vs New Zealand (Full-Time Score: 2-2, SO: 3-4)
New Zealand prevailed 4-3 in a sudden death shootout to beat hosts Malaysia after scores were locked 2-2 after 60 minutes. The New Zealanders opened the scoring in an enthralling match with Luke Aldred roofing his drag flick. Malaysia hit back immediately though, Ashraf Adam finishing from a baseline pass to the p-spot. Sam Lints put New Zealand ahead again, Mohamed Rafaizul saving Lint’s first shot before he pounced on the rebound. Malaysia failed from two penalty corners, and New Zealand led 2-1 at the break.
The goalkeepers shone in the second half. Malaysia’s Muhammad Danish Afnan denied New Zealand twice, making an excellent stick save from a penalty corner, and stepping off his line during open play to smother a shot. New Zealand’s Luke Elms reciprocated, saving one from open play, and another at full stretch on his left foot from a penalty corner. Afnan again denied New Zealand just 20 seconds into the final quarter, and Elms made a double save off a penalty corner with 10 minutes left to play. Malaysia were building pressure though and Shamir Shamsul’s field goal in the 57th minute sent the match to a shootout. It was the junior Black Sticks who prevailed in the shootout in sudden death to claim 11th place in the tournament.
Player of the match was New Zealand’s Ryan Parr: “A really tough tournament for us, a few hard games with a tough pool, but to end it on a win was pretty special.”
Belgium vs South Africa (Full-Time Score: 2-1)
Belgium triumphed 2-1 in a hard-fought battle against South Africa. The opening half produced plenty of opportunities, but goalkeepers Reece Govender for South Africa and Boris Feldheim for Belgium made excellent saves to keep it goalless for 26 minutes. Hugo Labouchere scored from a penalty corner for Belgium, and Louis de Backer ran in a quick free hit to make it 2-0 at half-time.
South Africa lifted their intensity after the break and Jaydon Brooker scored off a penalty corner, but two yellow cards saw them end the third quarter with nine men. Belgium pressed with their numerical advantage and won a penalty stroke, only for leading tournament goal scorer Labouchere to send it wide. Belgium then received a yellow card as South Africa’s full complement returned, and the South Africans pressed hard. Brooker had an opportunity to level the scores off a final penalty corner, but bulleted his drag flick into the post, Belgium hanging on for the win and ninth place in the tournament.
Belgian player of the match Jack Vloeberghs reflected: “We did our best to just finish ninth and have a good feeling at the end but, of course, it’s a bitter disappointment that we didn’t play the quarter-finals. But at the end it’s a very happy feeling with the results of the team.”
To see the full match schedule, click here.
FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Malaysia 2023 – 15 December 2023
Bukit Jalil National Hockey Stadium, Kuala Lumpur
Result: Match 41
Canada 1-4 Chile
Player of the Match: Sebastián Wolansky (CHI)
Umpires: Lukasz Zwierzchowski (POL) and Hideki Kinoshita (JPN)
Result: Match 42
Egypt 3-4 Korea
Player of the Match: Dohyun Lim (KOR)
Umpires: Tim Meissner (GER) and Antonio Ilgrande (ITA)
Result: Match 43
Malaysia 2-2 New Zealand (SO: 3-4)
Player of the Match: Ryan Parr (NZL)
Umpires: Rajput Sourabh (IND) and Hyosik You (KOR)
Result: Match 44
Belgium 2-1 South Africa
Player of the Match: Jack Vloeberghs (BEL)
Umpires: Bevan Nichol (NZL) and James Unkles (AUS)