South Africa, New Zealand seal top 10 spot

While South Africa ended Austria's hopes with a 4-2 win, New Zealand beat late replacement Malaysia 3-1 in the 9-12 place playoffs.

Japan Egypt Hockey World Cup

Players of Japan and Egypt vie for the ball during the Junior World Cup match in Lucknow on Wednesday.   -  PTI

South Africa and New Zealand ensured they would finish among the top-10 teams at the ongoing Hockey Junior World Cup with convincing victories in their respective classification matches here on Wednesday.

While South Africa ended debutant surprise package Austria's hopes 4-2, New Zealand beat late replacement Malaysia 3-1 in the 9-12 place playoffs. New Zealand began early with Oliver Logan finding the net in the sixth minute itself through a penalty corner but Malaysia struck back with one of its own, seven minutes from half time.

The Oceania side, however, stepped up the pace in the second half and Malaysia, who had been drafted in just one week before the tournament began as a replacement for Pakistan, had no answers to the frequent attacks other than packing up its defence. That, however, was not enough to prevent the Back Sticks from adding two more goals with the last one coming against a nine-man Malaysia side.

South Africa, which had come with a target of finishing among the top-10 sides – something coach Garreth Ewing admitted had not happened in the past two decades – stepped closer to achieving its objective with a clinical performance against Austria. After a convincingly defensive outing against India that saw the host struggling in its last league game, South Africa played far more attacking hockey against a weaker opposition and controlled the run of play, scoring twice in each half.

Even though Austria went ahead through Franz Lindengrun's strike in the 13th minute, it was South Africa that dominated and got the equaliser through Matthew De Sousa in the 21st minute. It became 2-1 and then 301 before Austria clawed back in the second half but Nqobile Ntuli's 68th minute strike sealed it in South Africa's favour.

Egypt and Canada meanwhile would battle to avoid the wooden spoon after losing their respective 13-16 place playoffs to Japan and Korea respectively. While the African champion put on a tough challenge before going down after a solitary goal from Koji Yamasaki in the 41st minute, Canada went down to Korea 2-1 to continue a disappointing campaign in the competition.

International Hockey Federation handed a one-match suspension to Japanese player Miyu Tanimitsu for a deliberate foul against an Egyptian player. Japan’s Miyu Tanimitsu was found guilty of breaching FIH Code of Conduct regarding by deliberately hitting an Egyptian player.

The results: 9/12 place: South Africa 4 (Matthew De Sousa, Courtney Halle, Nqobile Ntuli, Ryan Crowe) bt Austria 2 (Franz Lindengrun, Leon Thornblom); New Zealand 3 (Oliver Logan, Robbie Capizzi, Sam Lane) bt Malaysia 1 (Firdaus Omar); 13/16 place: Japan 1 (Koji Yamasaki) bt Egypt 0; Korea 2 (Joohan Park, Seyong Oh) bt Canada 1 (Brandon Pereira).

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