Minnows Austria continued to impress in the ongoing men’s Junior Hockey World Cup as they spanked declining Asian powerhouse Korea 5-2 to remain in contention for a surprise quarterfinal berth from Pool A in the 16-team tournament.
Austria, coached by former India international Cedric D’Souza, impressed all and sundry with twin strikes in the first half through Marcel Hilbert (8th minute) and Pit Rudofsky (21st) before pumping in three more after the change of ends, courtesy Oliver Binder (39th), Franz Lindengrun (60th) and Pit Rudoksky (62nd), who scored his second of the match.
For Korea, Joohan Park (35th, 56th) scored twice from penalty strokes.
In the other Pool A encounter later in the day, mighty Australia had to fight hard to scrape past gutsy Argentina 2-1 in their opening fixture of the tournament.
It was Australia who took the lead through a Matthew Bird field goal in the 31st minute before Argentina equalised in the second half through a penalty corner conversion by Maico Casella (42nd minute).
Thereafter, it was a neck-and-neck battle between Australia and Argentina as both the teams looked to outsmart each other.
In the end, it was Australia who succeeded in breaking Argentina’s resolute defence and earned a penalty stroke just a minute before the final hooter which was beautifully converted by Olympian striker Blake Govers (69th).
Pool A is heading for a tight finish as three teams — Austria, Australia and Argentina — are in contention for the two quarterfinal berths up for grabs.
Austria, who earlier drew 1-1 with Argentina in their opening game, are now leading Pool A with four points from two games and will next play Australia.
Australia, however, enjoy an advantage over Austria and Argentina as they have played just one game so far.
Argentina, meanwhile, will take on Korea in their last pool match on December 12.
Meanwhile in another game, South Africa beat Canada 3-1 to stay in contention for a quarterfinal berth from Pool D.
South Africa came from a goal down to secure full three points after Canada took the lead against the run of play when Brandon Pereira gave his side the lead in the 21st minute.
But Canada’s joy was shortlived as South Africa equalised through a penalty corner conversion by Kyle Lion-Cachet (26th) five minutes later. And then Ryan Crowe (41st) and Walter Pfaff (55th) scored two field goals in the second half to seal the match for the African side.
South Africa will play hosts India in their crucial final pool match on December 12, while already out of the reckoning Canada will face England.