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WFCQ 2016 AOFC: Day 2 – 03.02.2016

Day 2 of the AOFC qualification saw victory for Thailand & Japan and shared points for Korea & Australia. Japan´s win means that New Zealand will play for 5th-7th place, while Singapore & Japan will progress to the semi-finals from Group A. In Group B, Thailand will play the semi-finals, and tomorrow´s matches will decide if it is Australia or Korea who will join them.  

The event hosts, Thailand, started the day with another strong win, this time defeating Malaysia 13-3, and moved a little closer to a chance of qualifying for WFC 2016. Pawat Thaidat shone again for Thailand with 4+4. The Thai team has several players from Sweden & Finland who, no doubt, bring a lot of skill to the team but they are just a small part of the group and the local players have also had a big impact. The speed at which the Thai players have developed is very promising. 

Malaysia have been absent from international competition for several years, so they too are in a development stage as they rebuild their national teams. Tristan Dass scored 1+1 and although today´s result means they will not be competing for a place in the final round, they will be happy to gain as much experience as possible in their two remaining matches.

Best Players: Alexander Rinefalk (THA) & Indy Benjamin Toh (MAS)

The second match was between Japan & New Zealand, and the experience of Japan was too great for New Zealand, with Japan taking a comfortable 12-2 win.

New Zealand´s team is made up of players ranging in age from 16 to 49 years old, and with little opportunity for strong competitive practice in New Zealand, they are really learning as they go. One bright point for them in the game was when Henrik Nystrom scored his first international goal. Like the Malaysians this is an experience for them as they look to expand their domestic competition and develop the youth players.

This was Japan´s first game of the event and they played strongly, scoring plenty of goals, except for the first period in which they struggled to attack against the enthusiastic Kiwi defence. After only managing one goal in the opening period they settled into the game in the second and combined for some skillful goals. Kenichi Ogawa was a standout for them with 3+3.

Best Players: Kenichi Ogawa (JPN) & Henrik Nystrom (NZL)

The final match of the day was between Korea & Australia and was a very tight and competitive match from start to finish. In the end, neither team was victorious, having to settle for one point each after a 3-3 draw.

Korea started slowly yesterday against Thailand and were never able to make up for that, so they were careful to make sure the same did not happen today. Australia had a slightly more controlled attacking game but were continually denied by the Korean goalkeeper, Jae Man Lee. The score was even after the first but Australia got the lead in the second after a controversial goal was awarded. The ball appeared to hit the goalpost, rebound out and hit the goalkeeper, to then be saved by the keeper before crossing the line, however, the referees judged that the ball had in fact hit the net and awarded the goal.

The Koreans regrouped and Seung Woo Soon managed the equaliser with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game, keeping Korea´s chances in the tournament alive. Tomorrow, Australia face the tough opposition of Thailand. Korea will expect an easier challenge against Malaysia, but the pressure of requiring a certain goal difference may create problems for them.

Best Players: Joo Hyung Kim (KOR) & Timbi Poon (AUS)

Photos: Jirawat Srikong