Following the conclusion of Pool A and Pool B, it is hosts Austria, Poland (current champions), Italy and Switzerland that will contest the semi-finals of the EuroHockey Indoor Junior Championship here in Vienna. Whilst Belarus, Croatia, Russia and Turkey will battle it out in Pool C to avoid relegation from this division. (Teams ranked 7th and 8th will play in Championship II in 2021).

Game 9: Poland v Turkey 3-2 (1-0)

In a very hard fought game, Poland inched their way past Turkey to claim their semi-final slot. KARULAK opened the scoring for Poland with a pc strike in the 12th minute. ATAS equalised for Turkey, but not until after the break (24th minute). Poland went ahead again via a quick rebound. A tense final 10 minutes saw Poland make it 3-1. Again ATAS got on the scoresheet from a turnover ball in the 37th minute. In spite of throwing everything at Poland, their defence held solid and gave Poland the win.

Game 10: Italy v Russia 7-2 (3-0)

In a great display of indoor hockey, the dark horse of the event Italy (newly promoted) has claimed a semi-final place. Italy went 3-0 ahead in the first half and really at no point did Russia look like overturning the result. With only 2 of the Italian goals coming from corners, they showed that they have plenty of firepower!

Speaking to Italian captain following the game Marco GARBACCIO he said “We knew it is a tough game as Russia has an indoor tradition and Italy not. But we played a good game. would love indoor tradition, Italy not. We played a good game.” Talking about their semi-final this afternoon he added: “So now we prepare for the afternoon match and we would love to play Austria, in front of that fantastic home crowd.”

Game 11: Croatia v Switzerland 4-6 (1-4)

Once again a semi-final place was at stake for the Swiss. Switzerland started well with a goal from SCHWEHR in the 4th minute. A turnover tap was enough for Croatia’s ILINOVIĆ to equalise in the 8th minute. However, 3 goals without reply from Switzerland put them in a strong position going into the break (1-4). Croatia, determined to get some points on the board worked hard to claw the score back in the second half, but it was a mountain to climb and in spite of an excellent power play where they reduced the scoreline to 3-5, a goal from MUGGLI (SUI) in the 33rd minute meant Croatia needed 3 in 7 minutes to get a draw. The final score was 4-6 for Switzerland and a game v Poland.

Croatian captain Mario MUCIĆ is determined to motivate his team to stay in this division “We know we need two wins in Pool C, but we want to stay in the top division.”

Austria v Belarus 8 – 4 (5 – 3)

The final game of the day was also critical for the final rankings in the Pools. A lively first half with a total of 8 goals saw Austria just ahead 5-3 at the break.

A dominant performance in the second half including some stunning individual skill from the workmanlike Austrian captain UNTERKIRCHER (he got 4 of the 8 Austrian goals!) saw hosts secure their unbeaten record in front of an enthusiastic home crowd!

After the game, Fabian UNTERKIRCHER was thankful for the crowd’s support “We set our target as a semi-final place which we have reached. The crowd was really brilliant and so loud.” Speaking about how he will motivate his team he said: “We will now take a rest and prepare for Italy, who we don’t know as we haven’t played them, so we will have a video session and be prepared.”

All photographs: WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK