In the six matches on Day Four of the IKF AOKC in Hong Kong, the favoured teams again prevailed easily on each occasion.
Against Indonesia Pool B leader Australia strolled to a comfortable win in the first game. Veteran Megan Marks, given the captain’s armband for the match, led the way with a game high seven goals. Every other player in Australia’s starting eight notched at least one, and for most of the game the scoreboard ticked over at a rate of around one goal per minute. Indonesia seldom threatened as the power and experience of Australia’s defence locked their attack out and offered up hardly any opportunities. Final score 36-4:
In the second game, Chinese Taipei continued in the same vein as yesterday, scoring with ease against Korea. A slight variant on the theme from the champion team’s previous game came out of the relationship between the two teams: relative korfball newcomer Korea has had strong technical assistance from Chinese Taipei via the sister institutions National Taiwan University of Education in Taipei and Seoul National University of Korea, which have worked extensively together over the past nine years on korfball development and are the respective centres of the sport in each country. Chinese Taipei star Ya-wen Li scored seven in just half a game, while Korea’s Sung Kwan Jeong has reason to be satisfied with his four goals against such high quality opposition. In the end Chinese Taipei won comfortably: 40-15.
China took longer to dominate Malaysia than was the case when they overwhelmed Macau yesterday, bringing a more measured less physical approach to this game. For most of the first half, scoring was relatively even and this shaped to be the day’s closest contest. In the second half, however, Malaysia’s energy levels sagged and China picked up its scoring tempo. China’s high quality female players scored 19 of the team’s goals, proving the difference between the two teams for a result of 29-11.
Next up, Hong Kong met Japan, and again the higher ranked team dominated with ease. Captain of the host team Kwok Kuen Ham found his scoring rhythm for a game-high five goals. As has been the case in many games, particularly where one team has gained the ascendance in the first half, a rash of substitutions occurred shortly after half time. These made little difference to the scoring momentum as coach Warman Cheng’s bench players contributed well. Although Japan managed to score occasionally, the result was an emphatic 36-10.
Back on court just three hours after victory over Korea, Chinese Taipei next took on New Zealand, whose coach Mark Garrett gave starts to a number of players who have seen little or no court time so far this tournament. Unfortunately, in the second minute, New Zealand’s Sarah Bateup fell badly, injuring her shoulder, and had to leave the game. After the disruption, the Chinese Taipei korfball machine resumed its regular goal scoring, albeit under more committed defensive pressure than some other opponents have offered. Chinese Taipei notched 16 before New Zealand found the korf, and at half-time the score was 18-1. New Zealand managed to score slightly better in the second half and by the final whistle the score was 38-5.
Also playing its second match in a few hours, Australia came back onto the court for the final pool game, taking on Macau. Another game where korfball’s spirit of friendship was evident, Australia spent a few days last week in a joint pre-tournament training camp with Macau, and the camaraderie between the players was obvious. That said, Australia’s players still brought their game faces and once the whistle blew, the amity went on hold. As in the earlier game, each of Australia’s starting eight scored. Ashlee Othen top scored this time with seven, more than the whole of the Macau team could manage, although Sie Ji Ong managed a buzzer beater right at the end, which was met by a huge cheer from the Australian bench. Final score: 25-6.
Tomorrow’s games are therefore set as follows: Korea v Indonesia, Japan v Macau, New Zealand v China and Hong Kong v Malaysia. Respective pool winners Chinese Taipei and Australia will rest tomorrow ahead of their semi finals, and by assuring their presence in the top four this week have each confirmed their qualification for next year’s World Championship in Belgium.