England still have an outside chance of the semi-finals after their latest wins against Australia and Catalonia, although will more likely be playing for places 5-8.
To make the semis, England will have to shock the very well-drilled hosts, Chinese Taipei, who themselves turned the korfball world upside down yesterday by defeating Belgium (who have only once ever failed to finish in the two two in a major event) and hope to make up goal difference. Otherwise, England will be playing for 5th to 8th place.
Yesterday, England defeated Australia 16-7. In the first half of this very slow game England, the favourites, could not create the gap as expected from the previous results. Too many good opportunities were missed which kept Australia in the race half way (4-3). The English team failed to score at all in the last 20 minutes of the half.
In the second half all Australia managed to do was to play along with the slow tempo imposed by their opponents. They failed to score in the first 19 minutes of the half whilst England built a comfortable lead scoring five without reply in the opening 11 minutes of the half. There was a flurry of goals in the last 11 minutes, with the teams averaging a goal a minute, something that was clearly lacking before from both teams. As some players will be present next year during the World Games, the countries would do well to introduce the use of the shot clock in their competitions without further delay to help overcome the poor tempo of their play today.
England then followed up that win by beating Catalonia today, in a match that was closer than expected, 14-13.
The English team was expecting to win against Catalonia but made hard work of it. Their throwing and catching at times was well below the level expected of such a high ranked team and this contributed to them never being able to open out a large enough gap to be comfortable. After leading by 4 goals they went in at half time leading only by 1 (7-6).
In the second half England again opened the lead out to 4 goals with under 5 minutes left but with some strange interpretation of the time wasting rule (on one occasion being penalised after only having possession for 2 seconds) coupled with conceding unnecessary penalties, they eventually held on to win by a single goal.