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Kiwis thrash Korea to grab gold, Japan book World Cup berth

Written by: Staff

Changzhou, China, Apr 23 (UNI) New Zealand outplayed Korea 4-1 to win the title, while Japan became the fifth nation to book a place in the World Cup following a 2-1 victory over France in the qualifying tourney here today.

In the other match played today, England surprised Pakistan 3-1 to finish third.

In the fast and action packed match between the Kiwis and and the Koreans, both teams played open hockey creating plenty of scoring opportunities.

But the Kiwis took control of the match by halftime through a 3-0 lead and the only consolation for a disappointed Korea was that Jong Ho Seo was named Player of the Tournament after the match.

In the the day's most important match, Japan became the fourth Asian nation, after India, Pakistan and Korea, to book their World Cup berth after holding on to a 2-1 lead against France.

The Japanese grabbed the last available spot for the September event to be staged in Germany as France failed to rise to the occasion and committed several mistakes allowing the match to slip away from their grip.

Japan, who were in the attacking mode from the very start, opened the scoring in the 27th minute when a ball coming off the stick of a French defender found the Japanese captain Kazuyuki Ozawa who hit the ball straight at the net from a close range, giving his team a 1-0 lead.

His was the only goal of the first-half.

In the second half, it was France's turn to take the initiative as they played hard to draw parity with their opponents. Their efforts were rewarded in the 43rd minute when forward Thomas Raisin hit a bouncing ball straight in to the net to raise hopes for his team.

But Japan came back strongly to end the French hopes in the 57th minute when captain Ozawa struck his second goal of the day to ensure a World Cup berth for his team.

In the bronze medal match between England and Pakistan, England led 1-0 at half-time through a James Tindall goal and fired two more in the second half to qulaify for the World Cup by taking the third position here.

For Pakistan, who also qualified with a fourth place finish, the solitary goal of the match came from Mudassar Ali Khan in the 49th minute.

The top five teams from this tournament were to qualify for the World Cup alongwith the other seven qualifiers -- India, Argentina, Australia, Spain, Germany, Holland and South Africa.


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