Former champion Australia and defending champion Belgium displayed tremendous fire power as they thrashed South Africa and Japan respectively to directly qualify for the quarter finals of the Hockey world Cup at the Birsa Munda Stadium here on Friday.
Riding on striker Blake Govers’s four goals, title contenders Australia thrashed South Africa 9-2 to top Pool A and later star Tom Boon led the charge with five goals as Belgium outplayed Asian Games champion Japan 7-1 to be at the top of Pool B with better goal difference over Germany.
Govers struck in the fourth, 15th, 19th and 20th minutes as the rampaging Australians led 7-1 at half time. His first and fourth strikes were field goals while the second one was from a penalty corner and the third from the penalty spot.
Tom Craig (10th), Jake Harvie (22nd), Daniel Beale (28th), Jeremy Hayward (32nd) and Tim Brand (47th) were the other Australian goal getters. Ntuli Nqobile (8th) and Kok Tevin (58th) were the scorers — both field goals — for South Africa.
Five of the Australian goals were field efforts while three were from the penalty corners. Australia earned eight PCs as against five of the South Africans.
In another Pool A match, Argentina and France scored a goal each in the final minute to play out a 5-5 draw in a dramatic contest. Argentina finished second in the pool with five points from three matches — one win and two draws — while France ended at third with four points — one win, one draw and one loss.
In Pool B former champion Germany beat Korea 7-2 to finish second with 7 points, same as Belgium but the defending champion topped by virtue of better goal difference. Korea finished third.
Argentina will play the third-place team in Pool B in their crossover match on January 22 in Bhubaneswar while France will take on the second-place team in Pool B the next day.
France thought they had won the match 5-4 after Victor Charlet scored in the final minute from the penalty stroke but Argentina equalized after a few seconds through a penalty corner. Argentina earned four penalty corners in succession and scored from the last one to split points with France.
Charlet (36th, 38th, 48th and 60th) struck four goals for France with two coming from penalty strokes. His first and last were from penalty strokes while the second and third were from PCs. Tynevez Etienne scored the other goal for France in the 11th minute.
For Argentina, who had played out a 3-3 draw against pool topper Australia, Nicolas Della Torre (34th, 42nd and 60th) struck a hat-trick while Keenan Nicolas (3rd) and Martin Ferreiro (51st) were the other goal scorers.
The Netherlands and England have also booked direct quarterfinal berths after topping Pool C and Pool D respectively on Thursday.
Belgium toyed with Japan and led 4-0 at half time. Besides Boon’s five goals Cedric Charlier and Dockier Sebastien scored a goal each for Belgium. Kentaro Fukude reduced the margin for Japan who ended the tournament without a win. Germany will play France and Korea will take on Argentina in crossover matches.