(Photo: Stanislas Brochier)

(cross-over 9/12) – Pakistan vs. South Africa: 4-0 (half-time: 1-0)

It was an uneventful first half between Pakistan and South Africa who began the game very cautious, both with eyes on advancing to finish at-best in 9th place at the 2013 Hero Hockey Junior World Cup. Both teams traded pockets of possession with neither looking too threatening in the circle.

A South African missed assignment in the 8th minute resulted in Muhammed Dilber being left wide open at the far post. Dilber put the fore-hand deflection on target after a hard hit from 45 yards out to lift Pakistan 1-0 entering the break.

South African’s best chance of the half came in the 19th minute when captain Dylan Swanepoel made a key interception off a Pakistan aerial and eventually earned a penalty corner. Matthew Brown’s resulting drag flick was saved by keeper Mazhar Abbas, protecting Pakistan’s one-goal edge at half.

South Africa opened the second frame with a penalty corner but missed the trap completely, allowing Pakistan to regroup. Soon after Ammad Shakeel Butt opened the gap for Pakistan scoring two goals in two minutes. Uhammad Umar Bhutta sent a perfect pass from the right side for Butt to turn and put away on his back hand in the 41st minute. Butt earned his second on a well-executed corner, propelling Pakistan ahead 3-0.

South Africa showed good possession play but continued to be stymied at the edge of the circle by the Pakistan defence. Pakistan’s speed continued to open the game up and a quick passing sequence in the circle allowed Muhammad Irfan to score at the far post for the team’s fourth goal.

With the win Pakistan will move on to face the winner of the Argentina-India game to challenge for ninth, while South Africa will play the loser for 11th.

For more information and pictures of PAK vs. RSA, click here.

Match #31 (cross-over 9/12) – Argentina vs. India: 2-4 (half-time: 0-3)

India were clearly disappointed to play in the bottom part of the draw and needed to redeem themselves in front of their fans. They were promptly on the score sheet, first by Ramandeep Singh entering the circle on the right and blasting a shot from a difficult angle through Tomas Rearte in the Argentinian goal, then by Amit Rohidas on penalty-corner. The match had hardly started and Argentina were already looking at a steep road ahead.

They settled their nerves and started pushing forward, forcing two chances on penalty-corners, but both Gonzalo Peillat’s flicks were countered. Play stayed confined in midfield until the 31st minute when Ramandeep Singh cut through the Argentinian defense and once again beat Tomas Rearte from an impossible angle nearly on the backline, much to the pleasure of the local fans.

Argentina pulled one goal back early after the break by Lucas Martinez, but India re-established their 3-goal lead by Gurjinder Singh with a low flick on penalty-corner. With time passing, an Argentinian come-back seemed unlikely and the Indians put on some showmanship for the crowd. They created plenty of chances, and hit the crossbar, but it was Argentina who scored next when Lautaro Diaz recovered well from a bobbled penalty-corner.

The Indian win set-up an always highly anticipated clash between Pakistan and India, although fans on both sides of the border would have preferred the match to be for better ranking than 9th place… As for Argentina, they can only be disappointed to play for 11th place, when they had never finished lower than seventh in eight previous Junior World Cup appearances.

For more information and pictures of ARG vs. IND, click here.

(cross-over 13/16) - Egypt vs. England: 1-6 (half-time: 1-0)

In the first match of the consolation round of the 2013 Hero Hockey Junior World Cup it was Egypt that showed up to play for the opening half, stunning England with the a goal in the 10th minute. A lack of basic skills plagued the English squad that showed more experience than Egypt but could not penetrate the circle in any dangerous fashion.

As for Egypt, who entered the 16-team tournament seeded last, Ramy Mohamed served the stinger that was the lone first-half goal. Egypt’s captain Ahmed Mohsen served up most of the trouble for the English back line despite some valiant tackles from England’s leader Andrew Bull.

England had one penalty corner in the opening frame and the resulting Phil Roper drag went low and wide. The team went on to have a series of seemingly promising chances but could barely muster enough to force a save out of keeper Wael Noureldin. Egypt almost advanced their lead by two when English net minder Harry Gibson was called to action on an Eslam Tarek close-range strike in the 22nd minute.

The mid-way break proved useful for England who returned revived to tally four goals in a ten-minute span. Following a penalty corner saved on the line by Egypt’s Mohamed Ragab, David Goodfield’s hard work helped set up a far-post tap in for James Gall to tie the game at one.

Three minutes later England took the lead thanks to a low, penalty corner drag from Luke Taylor, which sparked a momentum shift in favour the English.  Finally finding their passing ways, England gained control and although Noureldin made two back-to-back saves it was Nicholas Bandurak whose final touch in the air gave England the 3-1 advance.

Egypt’s fatigue began to show despite showing potential on two penalty corners earned. In the 51st minute a crucial steal in the midfield sprung an England attack that resulted in Goodfield getting the final touch over the line. Bandurak and Bull added the fifth and sixth goals, respectively to help England advance to play the winner of Canada-Spain in search of the 13th place.

For more information and pictures of EGY vs. ENG, click here.

(cross-over 13/16) - Spain vs. Canada: 3-2 (half-time: 2-1)

Both Canada and Spain had to dig deep to fight through fatigue and the sheer fact that they were relegated to the consolation round of the 2013 Hero Hockey Junior World Cup. The first half score line reflected the momentum of the game with the opening minutes favouring the Pan American silver medalists, while Spain dominated the latter.

Canada missed two far post deflections in the early get-going first by Brenden Bissett and again in the 11th minute by Balraj Panesar. Spain had one golden opportunity early on teed up perfectly by Alvaro Iglesias but Albert Beltran could not make the trap, leaving the game scoreless.

After knocking several times on the doorstep Canada finally gained the go-ahead after a hard hit from the left side that found Gabriel Ho-Garcia’s stick. The speedy striker made a fake inside then came back to his back-hand to lift Canada 1-0. The goal fueled Spain to push back and they began to threaten the Canadian back line on numerous occasions.

Canadian keeper Kevin Pereira was called to action several times but a hard hit across resulted in an own goal, tying the game at one. Spain earned a series of three penalty corners and on the third Borja Llorens made no mistake with a low drag flick in the 35th minute.

In the second half much of the same back-and-forth action continued with both teams struggling to capitalize in the circle. In the 44th minute Spain had a drag flick saved on the line by defender Gordie Johnston, while Pereira again stood tall for the young Canadians.

Spain found their security goal from Lluis Mercade in the 61st minute after a nice give-and-go with Enrique Gonzalez. With a 3-1 win, Canada pulled their keeper to play with 11 men. They were rewarded in the 64th minute when Brenden Bissett’s rocket cut the lead to one. Spain had one more close chance on the empty net but it was deflected wide, leaving Mercade’s goal as the game winner. Spain will now advance to vie for 13th place against England, while Canada will face Egypt for 15th.

For more information and pictures of ESP vs. CAN, click here.