(Photo: © Philippe Demaret)

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While Australia and Korea recorded the biggest victories, it was Argentina and Spain who produced the most impressive performances on day one of the Rabo Hockey Junior World Cup in Rotterdam.

Ranked seventh in the tournament, Argentina produced a minor upset by defeating Junior World Cup powerhouse Germany 3-2 in an entertaining spectacle. Led by the enterprise of striker Lucas Vila, Argentina showed championship potential to score three second half goals in an aggressive and energetic performance. 

Germany have won four of the seven Junior World Cups contested and were favoured to beat the Pan American champions. However they were forced to chase a two-goal deficit twice in the match before falling just short. 

After neither team could gain the scoreboard advantage in the first 35 minutes, the match opened up and Argentina’s flair in attack provided the impetus for five second half goals to be scored. 

In all, 49 goals were scored on the opening day, with the two matches netting almost half of that tally as Australia and Korea took early control of their respective Pools. 

Before Argentina’s impressive victory, it had been a tough day for Pan American teams, with Chile and Mexico both suffering heavy defeats in the opening two matches. 

Australia opened the tournament with a flurry against Chile and raced to a 5-0 lead within 17 minutes. Although they lost a player due to injury of the eve of the tournament, the tournament’s number three seeds were composed and their ball movement crisp as they scored seven goals in the first half and another five in the second to complete a dominant 12-0 performance. 

Australia’s Colin Hennessy ignited the morning’s goal avalanche, netting a penalty stoke after two minutes to get his team and the tournament off to a flying start. 

Hennessy found the net another three times for the match for a personal tally of four, but his haul wasn’t the day’s best, with Korean Jong Hyun Jang notching five goals that included four penalty corners. 

Mexico couldn’t withstand Jang’s – and Korea’s - second half onslaught as their Asian opponents piled on eight unanswered goals in an 11-0 thrashing. Mexico fought gamely in the first 35 minutes and had several chances to score throughout the match, but a lack of finishing touches in front of the net meant they couldn’t transfer their opportunities to the scoreboard. 

On the basis of today’s play, Pool A appears to be the most difficult to predict, with England and Spain evenly matched after captain David Alegre’s first half goal gave the Spanish a narrow 1-0 win. 

England’s preparation, like many of the European teams, has been disrupted due to the exam commitments of a number of their players. Two squad members only arrived a night before the tournament and so the team’s cohesion should improve in the next two Pool matches. 

In Pool B, Belgium pounced early to surprise Pakistan and take a 1-0 lead and held their advantage until just seven minutes before half time when Muhammad Imram made no mistake with a fierce penalty corner drag flick high into the right corner of the net. 

Pakistan, the tournament’s number six seeds, were tested throughout the second half and responded, albeit late in the match, with two goals inside the final six minutes to secure maximum points. 

India were always in control of their clash with Egypt – Sandeep Singh’s three penalty corner goals enough in a 4-1 win. The Junior World Cup defending champipons led 2-0 at half time but allowed Egypt to close the margin to one goal before pulling away midway through the second half to ensure a trouble-free start. 

Malaysia’s 4-1 win against South Africa looms as being the crucial result in Pool B, with Germany and Argentina heavily favoured to advance to the next stage. By getting the jump on South Africa, Malaysia is now in the box seat to survive when the four pools become two over the weekend. 

In the day’s final match, the Netherlands were too strong for an outclassed Poland outfit. The home team netted four goals in the second half and Rogier Hofman scored a hat trick in a good warm-up before tougher matches later in the week.

Pool A
Korea 11 defeated Mexico 0
Goals: KOR – Jong Hyun Jang PC 3m PC 44m FG 49m PC 68m PC 69m, Jong Soo Lee FG 11m, Sung Kweon Hong PC 35m, Yong Ho Choi FG 37m, Young Jin Kim FG 41m FG 51m, Chang Yong Yeo FG 56m 

Spain 1 defeated England 0
Goals: ESP – David Alegre FG 18m 

Pool B
Argentina 3 defeated Germany 2
ARG – Lucas Vila FG 40m, Tomas Argento PC 44m, Lucas Rossi FG 55m; GER – Moritz Fuerste FG 50m PC 58m 

Malaysia 4 defeated South Africa 1
Goals: MAS – Azli Misron FG 2m FG 68m, Zulkifli Mohd Rejab PC 28m, Ismail Abu FG 33m; RSA – Pierre-Gerard Geldenhuys PC 22m 

Pool C
Australia 12 defeated Chile 0
Goals: AUS – Colin Hennessy PS 2m FG 11m FG 38m FG 45m, Tom Cleghorn FG 5m FG 9m, Jonathan Charlesworth FG 17m, Iain Davidson FG 23m, Glenn Turner FG 34m FG 49m, Des Abbott FG 44m, Kiel Brown FG 69m 

Pakistan 3 defeated Belgium 1
Goals: PAK – Muhammad Imram PC 28m PC 64m, Muhammad Arif FG 66m; BEL – Mike Dewever FG 3m 

Pool D
India 4 defeated Egypt 1
Goals: IND – Sandeep Singh PC 5m PC 27m PC 55m, Vivek Gupta FG 59m; EGY – Mahmoud Elbadry PC 52m 

Netherlands 6 defeated Poland 0
Goals: NED – Nick Meijer FG 9m, Rogier Hofman FG 15m FG 33m FG 51m, Tjeerd Steller PC 50m, Robert van der Horst FG 63m