| Argentina’s Ayelen Stepnik (right) is congratulated by teammates after scoring the matchwinner against South Korea in the World Cup in Perth on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Perth: China will compete for a semi-final berth following a decisive 3-1 win over Germany in pool A match of the women’s World Cup hockey Tuesday.
China (13) lead South Korea (11) and with the teams scheduled to play New Zealand and Scotland in their last pool games respectively, it’ll be real cliff-hanger.
Australia and Netherlands from pool B and Argentina from pool A have already qualified for the semi-finals Friday.
Argentina maintained an all-win record when they beat South Korea 2-1 Tuesday.
The South Americans have given the Koreans a harrowing time of late, winning all five encounters since the Atlanta Olympics.
Agustina Garcia’s 16th minute strike put the Argentineans ahead. She dribbled into the striking circle after getting a ball in the midfield and beat the opposition ’keeper with a stinging hit.
Lee Seon-ok equalised for the Koreans when her drag-flick off a penalty corner went into the goal.
Argentina played defensively through the remainder of the first half, conceding three more penalty corners, with none being converted.
Ayelen Stepnik sealed the game for Argentina in the 50th minute latching on to a lose ball inside the circle.
“It was a very difficult match with the fit Koreans playing a tactical game,” said Argentina coach, Sergio Vigil.
“Mariela Antoniska (Argentina’s ’keeper) stopped two or three important shots today,” Vigil said, “and although the team didn’t play very well we won the match.”
Meanwhile, China went in the lead in the 26th minute against Germany with Tang Chunling’s backstick strike finding the back of the net.
Nadine Ernsting-Krienke put Germany back on track 11 minutes into the second half, deflecting in Denise Kleckers strike off a penalty corner.
Fu Baorong put the Chinese ahead three minutes later when she went into the striking circle and put it past the German keeper.
Heike Latzsch troubled China with her speed and penetration and creating chances for Ernsting-Krienke and Natascha Keller.
Germany ran out of gas in the last five minutes, with Cheng Hui scoring the third goal taking advantage of a defensive error. Stand-in China manager Zhou Xiaoyu said: “All the players are trying their best to get into the semi-finals and we hope we can do that by winning against New Zealand tomorrow.
“We have won the Champions Trophy and the Asian Games and now that China have qualified for the 2004 Athens Olympics, the game has become popular in the country.”
Germany are assured of fourth place in pool A regardless of the result against Ukraine Wednesday.
“We lost the match in the first half and we didn’t apply enough pressure,” said German coach Peter Lemmen.
Earlier in the day, New Zealand defeated Ukraine 3-0 to take fifth place in pool A and will be relegated to play off for ninth to 12th positions, their worst performance in more than 10 years.
Niniwa Roberts-lang of New Zealand scored the first hattrick of the tournament converting three penalty corners.
In another match, Scotland beat Russia 3-1 with a field goal and a penalty corner conversion by Rhona Simpson and a penalty stroke by Louise Carroll. Nadezda Chegurdaeva reduced the margin for Russia via a penalty corner.