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WFCQ 2016 AOFC: Day 4 – 05.02.2016

Australia & Singapore became the first teams to qualify for WFC 2016 in Riga, Latvia, when they won their semi-final matches. Australia defeated Japan, while Singapore beat Thailand. With three teams qualifying from AOFC, Japan & Thailand still have a chance when they meet each other in the Bronze match tomorrow. In the other match, Korea beat New Zealand which guaranteed them 5th place in the tournament. 

In the Korea v New Zealand game, Korea were the stronger team for most of the game and although they weren´t scoring lots of goals they looked to be in a comfortable position with a 3-0 lead going into the last period. With 10 minutes left in the game, New Zealand came to life and launched a comeback. Two goals in 90 seconds changed the tempo of the game considerably, and it was Korea who were under pressure. A powerplay goal gave them some breathing space but again New Zealand scored to bring the difference to one goal. In the final few minutes, New Zealand attacked continuously and their final shot of the game just went wide of the goal. The 4-3 win gave Korea 5th place.

Best Players: Kyoung Hoon Seo (KOR) & Lewis Taiapa-Skinnon (NZL)

Singapore & Thailand played the first semi-final, and the home crowd had high hopes for their team, especially after they had finished top of the difficult Group B. Thailand´s top-scoring pair of Thaidit & Rinefalk got their team´s first goal and went to break with a 2-0 lead. Singapore looked much more settled in the second period and having secured their defence were able to equalise the scores by the end of the period. Singapore took the lead for the first time just 43 seconds into the last period. Singapore´s experience and some tired legs on the Thai team provided the opportunities for Singapore and with two more goals before the 50 minute mark, the Singaporeans had the game. The 5-2 victory made them the first team, apart from hosts Latvia, to qualify for WFC 2016.

Best Players: Patiwat Kaewsuwan (THA) & Nicholas Chua (SIN)

The second semi-final was Australia & Japan, a traditional rivalry in the Asia-Oceania group
. Australia took the early lead and the Gartner brothers, Tom & Daniel, combined for a second. Japan, however, answered straight back within 8 seconds with a goal to Rei Oshima. The second period was even and it was again Australia scoring first and Japan answering. The final period saw penalties for both teams and as the pressure grew on Japan to equalise, their discipline faded. Australia increased their attack and it was the Gartner boys again who teamed up to find the net. The final score was 4-2 and Australia booked their place for Latvia.

Best Players: Kenta Higuchi (JPN) & Daniel Gartner (AUS)