Strong contenders Japan chalked up their third consecutive victory as they coasted past Czech Republic 3-0 in the fourth and final men’s round 2 tournament in Elektrostal, Russia. The win boosts the Asian side’s hopes of qualifying for the HWL semifinals.
The world number 16 side struck early in the 6th minute when Yasuhiro Nakayama converted a penalty corner. Japan were denied from scoring further in the first half as they took the break with a solitary goal cushion.
Czeck Republic were very much in the contest, not allowing Japan to breach their citadel until the Asian giants nipped out two late goals to emerge convincing winners.
Kei Kawakami made it 2-0 six minutes from the final hooter before Yasuhiro Nakayama added his second goal for the day a minute later as Czech Republic let their guard down in the dying moments of play.
This was Czech Republic’s third straight defeat, which effectively puts them out of contention for a semifinal berth.
Japan had earlier got the better of Ukraine 5-1 in their opening tie before they went on to dispose of Egypt 3-1 in their second game.
Hosts Russia also shored up their semifinal qualifying chances when they came from a behind to pip Ukraine 3-1. Trailing by a goal, the Russians rebounded, striking thrice to glean full points from the match.
In another match, Austria edged out Egypt 3-1 in a penalty shootout after both teams were locked 3-3 in regulation time.
The round 2 tournament resumed on Thursday after a rest day on Wednesday.
It may be pertinent to mention that the winner of the fourth and final men’s FIH Hockey World League (HWL) Round 2 tournament will join Olympic champions Germany, Asian giants South Korea and Argentina in Pool A of the second semifinal to be held at Johor Bahru.
The Pool B of the Johor Bahru event would comprise England, South Africa, Pakistan and hosts Malaysia.
The team finishing second in the fourth and final men’s FIH Hockey World League (HWL) Round 2 tournament in Elektrostal would join Olympic bronze medalists Australia, Belgium and Spain in Pool A in the first semifinal to be held at Rotterdam.
The Pool B of the Rotterdam event features hosts and Olympic silver medalists the Netherlands, India, New Zealand and Ireland.
Earlier, Belgium and hosts France qualified for the semifinal stage from the third FIH Hockey World League (HWL) Round 2 tournament held in Saint-Germain near Paris,
10th ranked Argentina and 12th ranked South Africa qualified from the second FIH Hockey World League (HWL) Round 2 tournament held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
9th ranked India and 15th ranked Ireland made it to the Hockey World League (HWL) semifinals from the first FIH Hockey World League (HWL) Round 2 tournament held in New Delhi.