Women locked in four-way battle for top two spots
India, Japan, Malaysia and Russia need nothing less than a win to ensure a safe passage to Round 3 of the FIH Hockey World League.
New Delhi: The men's competition of the FIH World Hockey League Round 2 here in the capital is a pale shadow of the women's draw, where the battle for the top two spots has boiled down to the last day of the competition with four of the six teams still in fray.
India, Japan, Malaysia and Russia have their calculators out to know what they need and to chalk out plans to achieve that before the last two matches of the round-robin league on Sunday, where Japan take on Malaysia and India meet Russia. The top two teams progress to Round 3, which will double up as World Cup qualifier.
Fiji and Kazakhstan proved to be the tournament's punching bags and are already out of the competition. But the win-draw and loss-draw rule has thrown the competition wide open among the other four teams.
The rules state that if a match ends in a draw at the end of regulatory 70 minutes, then the match goes to penalties. From there, the winner gets two and the loser one point. The two drawn encounters so far saw Japan beating Russia and India on penalties, but the one point awarded to India and Russia has kept them very much in the hunt.
India and Japan so far have 10 points, but India lead the table by virtue of having won three matches in regulation time, while Japan could do that only twice and needed penalties to win-draw on the other two occasions. However, Japan enjoy the best goal difference (GD) of +25, followed by +21 of India's.
Malaysia are currently number three with nine points from three wins (GD +13) and Russia number four with seven points (GD+14) in their kitty.