Kuala Lumpur (15 January, 2017): It was fright night for Asian challengers Thailand and Singapore in Day 2 action of the Women Hockey World League Round 2 at the Tun Razak Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
World No 15 Italy, who arrived here as favourites, registered a 5-0 victory over Thailand while Wales humbled Singapore 7-0 in Pool A matches. It was the Italians second straight triumph in the tournament following a 3-0 win over the Welsh in Saturday’s opening encounter.
As for the Thais, who defeated Singapore 4-0 earlier, the result against Italy certainly did not help in their mission of a top two finish and now go into a head to head clash with Wales on Tuesday with the hope of causing a major upset victory in the tournament.
Wales returned on Sunday to dazzle spectators and opponents Singapore and the result ensured the Welsh; ranked World No 32, increase their chances of a top two finish in the pool behind Italy.
The match began in slow fashion and it was only in the second half that the Welsh picked up momentum after Natasha Jones-Markeu and Lisa Daly gave her team a resounding start with goals in the 8th and 14th minutes.
Singapore came back in the second half with a change of goalkeepers – Felissa Lai replaced Yu Tong Li but nothing changed much although the Singaporeans had their chances upfront but could not make any breakthrough but Wales was far more dominant in the hunt for goals.
Lisa notched her second for Wales in the 31st minute; Phoebe Richards (45th) increased it to 4-0 whilst Abi Welsford (51st), Phoebe (58th) and Sarah Jones completed the rout against Singapore – silver medal winners in the 4th Women AHF in Bangkok last year.
Singapore’s Australian coach, David Viner, was quite disappointed with the result but contended that they were playing against a side far more superior both tactically and physically.
“I thought we did well to contain Wales with just two goals in the first half and also had some opportunities to score. Certainly we lacked the depth but the players did their best. We have a very young squad and it was a good exposure against a European side,” he said.
Wales coach, Kevin Johnson, observed: “There was a lot of positive energy from the players against Singapore after going down to the Italians earlier. It was a great comeback for us and we are headed back in the competition.
“Our target has been to finish in top two in our pool and we now look towards playing Thailand in the last pool match on Tuesday. We just have to get better than this against the Thais.”
Jasbeer Kaur Singh, playing in her 51st international match, fired the Italians ahead in the ninth minute followed by open play goals from Marcela Casale (27th), Valentina Braconi (34th) and Maria Garraffo (40th) whilst Agata Wybieralska extended the lead in the 51st minute from a penalty corner to ensure a memorable night.
The action returns on Monday (Jan 16) with Pool A matches. Malaysia plays Ireland in a match the host aim to turn the tables on the Irish Green Army while Hong Kong entertains Kazakhstan.
Malaysia’s Tigress defeated Hong Kong 9-0 and Ireland humbled Kazakhstan 12-0 in Saturday’s Day One action.
Results: Group A: Wales 7 Singapore 0; Italy 5 Thailand 0.
Fixtures – Monday (16 Jan, 2017):
Group B: Kazakhstan v Hong Kong (6.15pm); Malaysia v Ireland (8.30pm).