World champions Australia went on a goal-scoring spree to hand a 10-0 drubbing to France while Belgium played a 2-2 draw with Great Britain in men’s hockey World League Semifinals at the KHD Dragons Stadium.
Australia showed no signs of rustiness as Govers brothers – Kieran and Blake – scored two goals each to launch their campaign in impressive fashion against France, who gave India a tough time before conceding the match winner in the dying minutes.
Apart from the Govers brothers, seasoned players Chris Ciriello, Jamie Dwyer, Matt Ghodes, Simon Orchard and Eddie Ockenden all got into goal-scoring action in the first outing.
Belgium scored a fourth-quarter equalizer to hold Great Britain to a 2-2 draw, while Malaysia managed to post a 3-2 win over a gritty Chinese outfit in an all-Asian contest.
Belgium, whose world No. 4 ranking is one spot ahead of the rivals, failed to make an impression on the sound British defence in the Group B encounter.
The hosts were relieved to see Sebastian Dockier’s conversion from a penalty corner rebound in the 49th minute to equalize 2-2.
The Belgians took the initial lead in the 19th minute when Simon Gougnard’s diagonal pass into the circle was deflected in by captain John-John Dohmen.
Britain drew parity on a deft flick into the goal by Simon Griffiths in scoring zone action following their first penalty corner in the 23rd minute. They went a goal ahead on an outstanding field goal by Alastair Brogdon, who capped his run down the left flank with a first shot into the net in the 32nd minute.
World No 12 Malaysia took charge of the contest against China with two goals in the second quarter as Faizal Saari sent a stinging shot into the net from a narrow angle in the 18th minute and Muhammad Shamsul duly converted a penalty stroke on the stroke of half-time.
Both teams observed a minute of silence before the start of the match and wore black armbands as a mark of respect to Malaysian goalkeeper Kumar Subramaniam, who left Antwerp to return home following the tragic death of his three-year-old son.
China came back into the contest through a 38th-minute field goal from Guo Xiaoping. The Chinese could have equalized soon after but their penalty stroke was overturned after a Malaysian appeal.
Malaysia stretched the lead in the 53rd minute on a penalty corner goal by captain Razie Rahim, but China were back in the contest by pulling one back in the last minute through a Zhang Zhixuan’s fine deflection. Chinese effort to force an equalizer in the closing stages were thwarted by the Malaysian defence.