It was the penultimate day of action at the FIH Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup, with positions 9-14 being decided today.

Uruguay completed their debut performance at a Junior World Cup with a convincing win over Wales to finish in 13th position. Not to be outdone, fellow debutants Malaysia also found winning ways as they broke African hearts to beat Zimbabwe in a seven goal onslaught. Then it was the turn of Ireland, who broke down a staunch Austrian defence to score four and finish their first Junior World Cup campaign in ninth position.

Wales 1-5 Uruguay (13-14th place) – Potchefstroom, North West University (RSA)

Wales got off to a dream start when Bethan Wood gave her side the lead after a goal mouth scramble in the third minute. On a pitch that was playing admirably despite as deluge of rain, the Welsh team got off to a sparkling start, showing a lot of energy as they attacked their South American rivals.

Uruguay are a resilient team however and they bounced back instantly. Agustina Suarez made a good run to the baseline before slipping the ball back to Manuela Vidal, who made no mistake as she flicked the ball past Ffion Horrell in the Welsh goal. The goalkeeper could have been forgiven for asking where her defence were as the Uruguayan team seemed to have acres of space.

With the scores even, the match became a game of cat and mouse. Both teams like to attack with a high tempo so there was plenty of action at both ends of the pitch, but with few scoring opportunities created. Where there were shots, both goalkeepers were in good form. Uruguay’s Maria Bate in particular, pulled off some great saves from the Welsh attack. For Wales, there were a lot of attacking moves down the righthand side of the pitch; Uruguay by contrast were looking for the high ball through the centre of the pitch.

Both sides had a chance to break the deadlock in the final two minutes of the half with a penalty corner apiece. First, Wales had an opportunity through a penalty corner from Isabelle Howell. The shot was wide and high.

Seconds later, Uruguay had their own penalty corner opportunity and this time, the team in white found the back of the net. A double deflection of two Welsh defenders saw Horrell wrong-footed and the goal was credited to Elisa Civetta.

Uruguay extended their lead in the 40th minute when an error in midfield allowed Uruguay’s Manuela Quinones to steal the ball. Her shot was mis-hit but fell kindly to Agustina Diaz in front of the Welsh goal and she was able to fire the ball home.

For Wales, this was a match of missed opportunities that the players will find painful to look back on. Uruguay sealed the game beyond doubt when first Lucia Dieste and then Manuela Vidal were both able to add to the score in the final five minutes of the match as gaps opened up in the Welsh defence.

Player of the Match was Uruguay’s Agustina Diaz. She said: ‘We are really happy with this performance. Our team has improved a lot during the tournament and I couldn’t be more happy. It has been amazing in South Africa, the people are so kind and we have had a lot of fun.’

An emotional Head Coach Andres Vazquez said ‘We played so much better in the second half of the match. We won three matches in the team’s first Junior World Cup, so we are living a dream. I will take away a lot of happy memories from this tournament.’

Wales’ Head Coach Walid Abdo said: ‘Nine of these girls have never played at this level and at the end, I think they ran out of steam. The experience has been amazing and we will build on it. We have loved the matches and the place and we have been so well looked after during our time here. In 10-15 years’ time I hope the players look back and say to their families, I was at this amazing World Cup.’

The result means that Uruguay finish in 13th place, with Wales in 14th position.

 Zimbabwe 2-7 Malaysia  (11-12th place) – Potchefstroom, North West University (RSA)

Zimbabwe and Malaysia came out to really entertain in this intriguing match-up and the 60 minutes of hockey action didn’t disappoint.

In the third minute Tinodiwanshe Elijah did what she had been threatening to do all tournament - she used her skill to score a cracking goal for her team. The forward pulled the ball left and right before slipping it past Siti Nasir in the Malaysia goal.

Malaysia’s response was a fabulous diving goal for Siti Mohd. Khalim Nurul fired in a long pass from near the sideline and Mohd dived onto the ball to tip it past Lavender Mandoza in the Zimbabwe goal.

With seconds left in the first quarter, Zimbabwe’s Alexi Terreblanche gave her side the lead again, latching onto an incisive pass from Elijah. The tall forward had used all her speed to leave the defence in her wake.

The pendulum swung to Malaysia in the second quarter as first Effrizal Insyirah and then Nurimirah Zulkifli found the net. Insyirah was on hand to deflect a penalty corner. Zulkifli scored her fifth of the tournament with a well-taken penalty stroke after a penalty corner drag flick struck a Zimbabwe defender on the body on its way into the goal.

After the half-time break, Malaysia began to take a real hold on the game. Nur Azhar scored a lovely creative goal that really demonstrated the confidence the whole team was now feeling, picking the ball out of the air and hitting it home.

The game was put out of Zimbabwe’s reach by Abang Dyang who struck a sweet penalty corner that went straight through Jenna Mathieson’s goal pads to give her side a 5-2 lead.

With 15 minutes left,, Malaysia still didn’t take their foot off the gas. Zulkifli pounced on a rebound from a penalty corner to score her sixth goal of the competition.

Malaysia’s seventh goal was a fabulous penalty corner variation. The ball was slipped from the top of the circle to Khairunnsia Mohd, who made no mistake as she swept the ball into the gap between the goalkeeper and the post.

Player of the Match, Nuramirah Zulkifli said: ‘I am very happy because we won. It was a good game. The second goal was the result of some good team work.’

Malaysian Head Coach Nasihin Ibrahim was delighted: ‘We started nervously in the first half but in the second half the girls were much calmer. They gave everything for the win. We missed a lot of penalty corners in earlier matches but today we converted them.’

Zimbabwe’s Head Coach Tendayi Maredza was still smiling despite the loss: ‘We were not quite there today. Malaysia had a plan and they executed it very well. We created some chances which is a good sign. We will build on that going forward. Personally I will take a break to recuperate and then we hope to take it a bit further and go for the Olympic qualifiers next year.’

As debutants in the competition, Malaysia ended their campaign in a creditable 11th place. Zimbabwe finished 12th, which equals their previous best performance, way back in 1989.

Austria  0-4 Ireland (9-10th place) – Potchefstroom, North West University (RSA)

Ireland started the stronger of the two teams as they set up a high pass from the first and put Austria under pressure. The Junior Green Army was rewarded by three penalty corners but the Austrian goalkeeper, Fabienne Gnehm, was in fantastic form and it was clear something special would be needed to beat her.

To this point of the competition, Austria had only scored two goals in match play [against Korea and Zimbabwe]. Head Coach Christian Hoffman would be hoping that this would be the day his players found their scoring ways.

Five minutes into the second quarter, Christina Hamill ran the ball into the Austrian circle to win Ireland’s fourth penalty corner of the match. The attempt, a precisely placed pass to Emma Paul waiting on the post, was well-read by Gnehm and yet again Ireland were left rueing an opportunity to take the lead.

At half-time, Ireland’s Head Coach David Passmore called for less panic from his players as they sought for the elusive goal. Austria Head Coach Hoffman also felt his players could do more to pressure the Irish team’s goal.

In the third quarter, Ireland upped the pressure to an even higher intensity level. Austria were driven back into their own half and their defensive capabilities were tested by the speedy and creative Irish athletes.

Ireland finally managed to breach Gnehm’s defence in the 36th minute through a moment of brilliance from Siofra O’Brien. The ball was played into the circle by Sarah Mcauley and O’Brien’s first touch put the ball into a position where the striker could send it hard and fast into the top of the Austria goal.

The goal galvanised the Austria team. A strong run by Katharina Bauer drew a foul and penalty corner. Katarina Proksch’s shot was fast but, unfortunately for her team, it was just wide of the goal.

Ireland made the Austrian’s pay for that missed opportunity when they scored a second goal - this time converting a penalty corner attempt. Caoimhe Perdue shot the ball goal wards and the injector Lisa Mulcahy got the final touch that extended Ireland’s lead.

A third goal sealed the ninth place finish for Ireland. A quick counter attack after some good pressure from Austria resulted in another penalty corner, which Yasmin Pratt deflected into the goal.

Ireland’s day was made even better when Christina Hamill topped a good all round performance with a wonderfully-taken touch in the Austria circle. The energetic forward just got a stick to a loose ball and guided it goal wards, completely flummoxing the Austria goalkeeper.

In possibly the most excitable interview of the tournament so far, a delighted Player of the Match Sarah Mcauley said: ‘I think we really enjoyed this. We treated it as a final. We finished ninth and we are just so pleased. We knew it was the last game so we went out with a smile on our faces and enjoyed it.’

Ireland Head Coach Dave Passmore said: ‘That was fantastic. We didn’t convert in the first half but in the second half we played with confidence and composure. There was a moment in the second half where we had two players off the pitch [with green cards] but we got through that. As a team we wanted to develop with every game and we did it.

‘The players love to play on the front foot so that suited this game. We were pressing, pressing pressing and as a result we won a lot of ball. Even when we sat off a bit, we still won a lot of ball.’

Austria’s Head Coach Christian Hoffman was also happy with his team’s overall performance: ‘Congratulations to Ireland but we are still so proud of our girls. Tenth place is really, really good. i think the players have improved tremendously over the competition and I am really proud.’

For both teams this was a first appearance at a Women’s Junior World Cup. The results mean that Ireland finished ninth overall, with Austria in a highly creditable 10th position. 

The final day of action takes place on Tuesday 12 April, at North West University, where the medals and fourth to eighth place will be decided. The opening match will see host nation South Africa looking to delight their supporters with a win over USA in the 7-8th place match. The next match, for 5-6th place, will be an intriguing match-up between Korea and Argentina, before India play England in the bronze medal match. For India, this would equal their performance in 2013; for England, it would be a first ever medal.

The final match is a highly anticipated clash between two European giants of the game, Netherlands and Germany. For the Netherlands, this would be a fourth title, while for Germany it would be their first medal at this event since 1989.

From 1–12 April, the Watch.Hockey app will be live streaming all matches, everywhere in the world.

FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup South Africa 2021 – 11 April 2022

Potchefstroom, North West University (RSA)

Result: Match 36
Wales 1-5 Uruguay

Player of the Match: Agustina Diaz (URU)
Umpires: Ines El Hajem (FRA) Maria Locatelli (ARG), Alison Keogh (IRL- reserve)

Result: Match 37
Zimbabwe 2, Malaysia 7
Player of the Match: Nurimah Zulkifli (MAS)
Umpires: Victoria Pazos (PAR), Rebecca Woodcock (ENG), Celine Martin-Schmets (BEL - reserve)

Result: Match 38
Austria 0, Ireland 4
Player of the Match: Sarah Mcauley (IRL)
Umpires: Lisette Baljon (NED), Sophie Bockelmann (GER), Ivona Makar (CRO - reserve)

To see the complete match schedule, please click here.

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