Oman, Netherlands, Egypt and Trinidad and Tobago finished top of their respective pools at the men’s FIH Hockey5s World Cup in Oman on Monday as the quarter-final line-ups were finalised.
The Dutch were the only side to have booked their spot in the top-eight after the opening day’s action, but the seven remaining teams safely negotiated their way through on the final day of pool matches with Poland, Egypt, India, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya, Oman and Malaysia all progressing.
Once the pool games came to an end, the first playoff matches of the Challenger Trophy, for those teams not making it through to the quarter-finals, took place with victories for Pakistan, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand.
The Netherlands started the day assured of a place in the quarter-finals but looked far from their best in an 8-6 win over Nigeria. They cruised to a 4-0 lead inside six minutes and it seemed Nigeria were in for a thrashing. But the Nigerians fought back to level the scores at 4-4 on the stroke of half-time. The teams traded goals in the second half with Nigeria managing to stay within striking range until the 28th minute when the Netherlands restored a two-goal cushion.
Meanwhile, in what was essentially a knock-out match within the pool, Poland hung on for a nail-biting 8-7 win against Pakistan. The Polish side powered to a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes but Pakistan rallied to level the scores by the 17th minute. Poland then edged two goals clear, and Pakistan equalised again by the 26th minute. The finish was frenetic, Pakistan missing a challenge and a penalty stroke in the 27th minute only for Poland to race down the other end for two quick goals a minute later. Pakistan’s Rana Waheed scored his fifth goal of the match in the dying seconds, but it wasn’t enough to close the gap as Poland booked their spot in the quarter-finals.
Although all four teams started the day with the statistical possibility of advancing to the quarter-finals the odds were heavily stacked in favour of India and Egypt, and it played out as expected. India started proceedings by ripping Jamaica apart 13-0, Maninder Singh bagging four goals. Egypt followed suit with a 9-0 victory over Switzerland with both Ahmed Elganaini and Mohamed Nasr contributing hat-tricks.
Ahmed Elnaggar said afterwards: “This is great to make three wins in the group stage. We hope to win and go to the semi-final… We are perfect at Hockey5s because we like small areas and small places and we have good, talented players. We hope to win this World Cup.”
Pool C was too close to call at the start of the day’s play. Hat-tricks from Ivan Ludiali and Danstone Wabwire gave a confident-looking Kenya a comfortable 7-4 victory over Australia, which saw them advance to the quarter-finals. The match was evenly poised at the break, but Kenya slammed in four goals in four minutes to lead 6-1 with 8 minutes remaining. The Aussies fought hard to pull back a couple of goals, but it was too little too late.
Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago defeated New Zealand 11-4, the prolific Teague Marcano adding another five goals for his team. The match was still close at half-time but eight goals for Trinidad and Tobago in the second half gave them the win, along with top spot in the pool.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Teague Marcano said after the match: “I think we bounced back strong, we stuck together as a team, staying in there for each other, encouraging each other and we just keep building with each game that we played. And the performances just keep getting better and better holistically.”
There was no room for error with three teams in the pool contesting for two quarter-final spots. Malaysia left nothing to chance with a convincing 8-3 win over Fiji, Akhimullah Anuar contributing three goals.
Hosts Oman came from behind and stayed calm under pressure in their 6-4 win over the USA. The Americans opened the scoring, but Oman worked their way to a 4-1 lead with eight minutes remaining in the match. The USA then snatched three quick goals in the space of two minutes to level the scores at 4-4. However, the hosts responded with two goals to end the match, so securing top spot in the pool and advancing to the quarter-finals along with Malaysia.
A delighted Khalid Al Shaaibi said afterwards: “We are proud and we say thanks for the country, and for the president of the association, and for the Sultanate of Oman… It’s not coming easy. We worked very hard before the tournament, and we trained very hard every day and every moment.”
As an additional “first” for the first ever FIH Hockey5s World Cup, the teams who did not make it to the quarter-finals are playing for another trophy: the Challenger Trophy. This will be awarded to the champions of the “Challenger” tournament. This initiative was introduced by FIH President Tayyab Ikram, as a sign of encouragement for all teams.
With the playoff games already starting on Monday, Pakistan kicked off the Challenger Trophy with a comprehensive 15-2 win over Jamaica, Hannan Shahid scoring seven goals and Rana Waheed adding five.
Australia beat the USA 6-3, a blistering start putting them 3-0 up in the opening four minutes and 5-0 up at the break. Liam Kerr-Nelson completed a hat-trick for the Aussies.
Switzerland clinched a nailbiter against Nigeria 5-4 in a match where the lead changed hands four times. Swiss captain Gaël Wyss-Chodat had the first and last word on the night, scoring the opening goal in the third minute and hammering in the winning goal from the halfway line with just 30 seconds remaining.
New Zealand staged an incredible second-half comeback to beat Fiji 6-5. The Black Sticks trailed for most of the match, but a run of four unanswered goals in seven minutes got them ahead in the 26th minute.
As a result Pakistan, Australia, Switzerland and New Zealand advance to the next round of the Challenger Trophy while Jamaica, USA, Nigeria and Fiji will play for the lower places.
FIH Hockey5s World Cup, Oman – 29 January
Result: Match 17 (M)
India 13 – 0 Jamaica
Result: Match 18 (M)
Switzerland 1 – 9 Egypt
Result: Match 19 (M)
Netherlands 8 – 6 Nigeria
Result: Match 20 (M)
Poland 8 – 7 Pakistan
Result: Match 21 (M)
Malaysia 8 – 3 Fiji
Result: Match 22 (M)
Oman 6 – 4 USA
Result: Match 23 (M)
Australia 4 – 7 Kenya
Result: Match 24 (M)
Trinidad and Tobago 11 – 4 New Zealand
Result: Match 25 (M)
Pakistan 15 – 2 Jamaica
Result: Match 26 (M)
USA 3 – 6 Australia
Result: Match 27 (M)
Switzerland 5 – 4 Nigeria
Result: Match 28 (M)
New Zealand 6 – 5 Fiji