Hockey: India, Pakistan into Champions Trophy semis

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December 7, 2012

India and Pakistan moved into the semi-final of the hockey Champions Trophy after their wins against Belgium and Germany respectively. India is close to its dream of winning the championship after 30 years.

December 7, 2012

India and Pakistan moved into the semi-final of the hockey Champions Trophy after their wins against Belgium and Germany respectively. India is close to its dream of winning the championship after 30 years.

Felix Denayer of Belgium (left) is tackled by VR Raghunath of India (right) in their Men's Hockey Champions Trophy match in Melbourne on December 6, which India won 1-0.

Archrivals India and Pakistan went into the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy along with the Netherlands after victories in Melbourne on Thursday.

India, chasing its first Trophy medal for 30 years, edged out Belgium 1-0, while Pakistan upset Olympic champions Germany 2-1.

Pakistan will be underdog again when it takes on the Dutch in Saturday's semi-finals, while India faces the winner of the evening quarter-final between Australia and England.

The Netherlands, a bronze medallist at the last two Champions Trophy tournaments, brushed aside New Zealand 2-0 to reach the last four.

India, a bronze medallist at the 1982 event at Amstelveen, is bidding to play in their first Trophy final.

Unlike its other wins at the tournament, India's win over Belgium was hard fought, with Indian coach Michael Nobbs praising his team's defense.

"It's an amazing feeling, they have worked really hard. I didn't think we played that well today but our defense was amazing," Nobbs said.

"It's something I haven't seen from an Indian defense in years, but I thought they played their hearts out.

"This is a young bunch of kids and all they want to do is play hockey, and they will give you everything."

The win came despite the Belgians controlling much of the match, however they were unable to convert their many opportunities.

The Indians made them pay, scoring a goal against the run of play through Nithin Thimmaiah in the 13th minute.

Captain Moritz Fuerste of Germany gets the ball away from Haseem Abdul Khan of Pakistan left)) during the first quarter final at the Men's Hockey Champions Trophy in Melbourne on December 6, in which Pakistan beat number-one-ranked Germany 2-1

Pakistan is one win away from their first Champions Trophy final since 1998 after upsetting the Germans.

Pakistan's win was due largely to Shakeel Abbasi, who dominated and scored both of his team's goals.

Abbasi said he believed his team could continue to do well in the tournament.

"In the last three matches I didn't score and I am a mentor for my side so I realized I had to score," he said.

"If we have confidence and play hard and have dedication, we have the potential to win against every team."

Pakistan's victory was made even sweeter given it was forced to come back after Germany opened the scoring through skipper Moritz Fuerste.

Pakistan's second and decisive goal was full of controversy.

The goal was scored by Abbasi, however Germany referred the decision claiming it should not have been awarded as the ball initially came off the back of the stick of a Pakistani player before making its way to Abbasi.

The video proved inconclusive with the goal standing despite the German protests.

The Netherlands were pleased to progress to the last four, yet coach Paul van Ass said he didn't feel his team played their best.

"It wasn't the best game from us here. It wasn't a fun game to watch, but maybe this weekend we will see a lot of nice matches," he said.

"The test will come this weekend when we play against high pressure. That is what we are here for so I'm looking forward to that."

After scoring first through Jeroen Hertzberger, Netherlands struggled to find a way through until a brilliant run into the circle by Sander de Wijn for Billy Bakker to convert for a two-goal cushion and passage into the semi-finals.


Courtesy: AFP