ZIMBABWE’S Under-21 women’s hockey team’s campaign at the fifth BDO Hockey Junior World Cup suffered a setback when pre-tournament favourites’s Netherlands condemned them to a humiliating 13-0 defeat in the opening game of the tournament
on Wednesday in Santiago, Chile.
According to reports from Santiago, Zimbabwe were outclassed by the Netherlands from the outset and despite remaining positive and working hard for the duration of the match, they were unable to stem the flow of the Dutch goals
Dutch defender Maartie Paumen produced the day’s most impressive individual performance, netting five penalty corner goals in the 13-0 romp to confirm their big presence in the knockout stages of the tournament.
The Dutch started positively and continued to press in the middle third of the match to open a winning lead of 7-0 by the breather. They controlled their match and never looked seriously threatened by their opponents whom they overwhelmed by 13 goals by the end of the second half.
The Dutch were rewarded through Vera Vorstebosch FG 6m FG 12m, Maartje Paumen PC 7m PC 29m PC 31m PC 62m PC 68m, Alessia Padalino FG 46m, Jolanda Pliiter FG 21m, Tessa de Haas FG 39m, FG 43m, Mirjam Siitsma FG 61m.
In the other Pool A match, the USA got the tournament off to a vibrant start with an upset win over England virtually guaranteeing them entry into the next phase of the tournament.
With only three teams advancing to the next stage, Zimbabwe had the chance to get their campaign back on track and make amends for their sluggish performance with a clash against England yesterday.
It will not be a stroll in the park for the team which has to win one of the games to be sure of the last 12, a feat which is difficult, but achievable.
Zimbabwe are the lowest-ranked at the 16-team showcase featuring more experienced and better equipped outfits, but coach Kumbirai Mundangepfupfu said he is happy with the underdogs’ tag which he says takes the pressure off the girls.
Zimbabwe coasted to a memorable Junior Women’s Africa Cup silver medal last year and wrote their own piece of history by becoming the first local hockey side to play in a World Cup tournament after shrugging off a combination of poor facilities, lack of corporate sponsorship and lack of government commitment to the sport which brought the country’s first Olympic gold medal in Moscow in 1980.
After taking on England, Zimbabwe will entertain the United States to complete the group games before the top three progress to the next phase while the fourth-placed teams in each pool will play off for the 13th to 16th position.
The four pools will combine to form two groups of six and teams will take forward the points earned against each other qualifying teams from their pool and then play the remaining teams not from their original pool to complete five preliminary round matches.
The top two teams in each six-team phase of the competition will progress to the semi-finals with the winners going on to play in the final.
No nation has won the women’s Junior World Cup more than once and former winners Argentina, Germany, Korea and the Netherlands will be out to achieve that feat. – Own Correspondent.