Japan, Russia boost Hockey World League qualifying hopes

Formidable Japan remained well on course for a berth in the FIH Hockey World League semifinals as they snuffed out the challenge of Egypt 3-1 to rack up their second straight win in the fourth and final men’s round 2 tournament in Elektrostal, Russia.

The world number 16 side, fresh from their impressive 5-1 win over Ukraine, took the lead in the 9th minute when Ryohei Kawakami slotted home.

Heita Yoshihara doubled the advantage midway through the first half.

Manabu Hatakeyama, who scored a fine hat-trick against Ukraine, converted a penalty corner to help Japan hold a cosy 3-0 half-time lead.

Egypt hit back in the second half, via a penalty stroke conversion by Hamada Atef but Japan held on to win 3-1.

Hosts Russia became the second team to maintain their winning run after Japan, after they prevailed over Austria 4-2 in a keenly contested match.

The home side drew first blood through Nikolay Yankin in the 6th minute, but Austria rebounded on the back of Michi Körper’s penalty corner goal four minutes later.

Nikolay Komarov made it 2-1 for Russia before Dmitry Azarov subsequently extended the lead to 3-1.

Austria reduced the deficit in the second half through Michael Körper but Russia made it 4-2 through Alexander Platonov.

The Reds held on to the lead to win 4-2.

In the third game of the day, Ukraine sprang a surprise when they edged out higher ranked Czeck Republic by a solitary goal. Artem Ozerskyi scored the match-clincher for Ukraine.

It may be worth recalling 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 medallists 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 medallists 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.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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