London, England: The Pool phase of the Men’s Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final drew to a close on Tuesday, revealing the teams that will line up in the event quarter-finals on Thursday.
In Pool A, Argentina finished at the top of the table, just ahead of England who were big winners against Korea in their final Pool match. Malaysia defeated China to take third place, with China claiming fourth place ahead of Korea, who are now eliminated.
In Pool B, The Netherlands beat India to seal a first place finish ahead of their opponents while third finishing Canada’s draw with Scotland proved to be good news for Pakistan, who took fourth ahead of the Scots.
The cross-over quarter-finals take place on Thursday 22nd June with Pool A winners Argentina facing Pool B’s fourth placed Pakistan at 1315 GMT, before Pool B runners up India play Malaysia at 1530. Pool B winners The Netherlands meet Pool A’s fourth placed team China at 1745 before Pool A runners up England take on Canada, who finished third in Pool B, at 2000.
The day’s play began in Pool B, with Scotland needing a win against Canada in order to qualify for the quarter-finals. Despite a valiant effort, things did not quite go their way. Gordon Johnston gave Canada the lead with a fine penalty corner drag-flick just before half time, but Scotland produced an excellent performance after the break and eventually levelled when Willie Marshall smashed home a penalty corner rebound to renew hopes. Scotland dominated the final quarter but found Canada goalkeeper David Carter in brilliant form, denying numerous chances to see out the draw. The result was good news for Pakistan, who finished fourth in Pool B and remain in the hunt for the required top five finish in order to secure a place at next year’s Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.
India and The Netherlands brought Pool B to a close with a high intensity encounter, with the Dutch taking a 3-1 win to top the table. Thierry Brinkman scored the opening goal in the second minute before Sander Baart and Mirco Pruijser made it 3-0. Akashdeep Singh pulled a goal back just before half time with a clever finish through his own legs, but it would be India’s only strike of the contest.
“We played a really good game, especially the first 20 minutes” said Dutchman Thierry Brinkman after the match. “We were very sharp in the first quarter, scoring two goals. After that we were perhaps not so sharp, but we played with a solid defence. We are top of the group with four wins from four games and improving with every game.”
In Pool A, Malaysia claimed a second successive win at the event with a convincing 5-1 result against China. It was Malaysia’s best performance of the competition by some distance, with a superb individual effort from Faizal Saari opening the scoring as early as the second minute. Najmi Jazlan, Razie Rahim (2) and Fitri Saari were also on target, with Du Talake scoring China’s only goal of the game.
The final match of the pool phase was an entertaining clash between England and Korea, with England giving it everything they could to overturn the goal difference advantage that Argentina had but falling just short. The final score-line was 7-2, with Sam Ward scoring four times with additional strikes from David Ames and Phil Roper (2). Although they could not quite steal first place ahead of Olympic gold medallists Argentina, they completed the Pool phase unbeaten and will feel justifiably confident going into the knock-out stages of the competition.
The top four finishers in London will qualify for the eight nation Odisha Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar, India, although there is a small caveat to this. If India, the host nation of the Final, do not finish in the top four then only the top three teams in London will qualify. They will be joined by the top three finishers from the Semi-Final competition in Johannesburg, South Africa, plus the highest ranked fourth place finisher from the two Semi-Final events.
When it comes to qualification for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, there are five automatic berths available here in London, although this will increase depending on the outcomes of the upcoming Continental Championships, which are also World Cup qualification events.
We will be providing full coverage of the event via www.fih.ch including reports, news stories, event imagery and much more. There will also be comprehensive coverage of the event via our social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the #HWL2017 hashtag.
Match Schedule for the quarter-finals
Match 21 (9/10): Korea (5th Pool A) v Scotland (5th Pool B) – 11:00
Match 22 (QF): Argentina (1st Pool A) v Pakistan (4th Pool B) – 13:15
Match 23 (QF): India (2nd Pool B) v Malaysia (3rd Pool A) – 15:30
Match 25 (QF): Netherlands (1st Pool B) v China (4th Pool A) – 17:45
Match 24 (QF): England (2nd Pool A) v Canada (3rd Pool B) – 20:00
The classification matches for 5th to 8th place will be as follows:
Loser Match 22 v Loser Match 23
Loser Match 24 v Loser Match 25
The semi-finals will be as follows:
Winner Match 22 v Winner Match 23
Winner Match 24 v Winner Match 25
FIH / HERO HWL2017 Images: Perspective photography