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It took seven days of competition, but the BDO Hockey World Cup has confirmed its first semi finalist with world number one Australia booking their place in the final four in Monchengladbach today.
The tournament’s top seeds are through to the semi finals after a six-goal thumping of Oceania rival New Zealand, the highest winning score of the tournament.
After losing to Spain to start the tournament, Australia has tallied 14 goals and conceded only two in their past three matches and found some title-winning scoring form against the Black Sticks today in an indication of their potential when in full flight.
It’s the eighth consecutive appointment for Australia in the last four of the World Cup and came on the day that midfielder Brent Livermore joined a select group of Kookaburras to reach the 250 international match milestone.
The Kookaburras’ performance was a fitting tribute to Livermore and Australia coach Barry Dancer praised the 30-year-old after the match saying his commitment and professionalism was a role model for other members of the Olympic gold-medal winning squad.
Both teams entered the match knowing that victory would guarantee a semi final berth, however consecutive defeats to two of the world’s top teams ended the Black Sticks’ dream of a maiden appearance in the final four.
They have shown great potential through the tournament however and were not afraid to attack Australia today even though it left them exposed in defence. Matches in the 5-8 playoffs are ahead for Kevin Towns’ team and they are a good chance to finish in the top half of the placings at tournament’s end.
Australia’s clash against Pakistan tomorrow to finish the preliminary rounds will provide them with a tough hit out before their biggest match since the Olympic final.
Pakistan have a slim chance of making the semi finals, but their situation will be known before the match starts.
For Pakistan to advance, Japan must first cause a major upset and defeat Spain in the opening match of day eight. Only if that result falls in their favour will the four-time World Cup winners have a hope of making their first semi final since they won in Sydney in 1994.
If that unlikely scenario occurs only a victory against Australia will suffice.
After Argentina brought their coach to tears yesterday through their effort and desire against Pakistan, it’s fair to assume any tears today would have been caused by an entirely different reason.
Yesterday’s morale-boosting win was replaced by a deflating defeat to Japan which ensures Argentina plays in the matches to decide the bottom four places.
Inconsistency was again the hallmark of Argentina’s play and it’s surprising they allowed Japan to sneak under their guards given a victory today would have given them a chance to finish as high as fifth.
Japan’s first win of the tournament gives them a remote chance of finishing fourth in Pool A if they defeat world number four Spain and Pakistan lose to Australia tomorrow.
They have proven a strong opponent to a number of the Pool A teams and have not been overawed even after a heavy opening day loss to Pakistan.
While Pool A is only waiting for one more semi finalist to emerge, there is a three-way race for two places in Pool B with Germany, Korea and the Netherlands all locked in 10 points after today’s matches.
Three late goals flattered Germany in a win over South Africa after the less fancied team had mounted a spirited challenge for 64 minutes. Germany’s flurry at the end of the match edged them ahead of Korea and into top spot in Pool B on goal difference.
Germany’s fifth goal was the 100th of the tournament and came in the 25th match.
South Africa’s have the opportunity to climb out of the bottom two places tomorrow in a clash against England that has important ramifications for both teams. England will enter the match as favourites but South Africa have proven a tough opponent to shake despite having so many inexperienced players in their squad.
While the Netherlands have finished their round robin matches, a dramatic finish awaits the Pool tomorrow with Korea and home team Germany to clash and decide the finishing order of the teams.
After the Netherlands exploited India’s threadbare corner defence tonight – marksman Taeke Taekema scored five goals – they must rely on a decisive result between Germany and Korea to advance to the semi finals.
The Dutch have had to win their remaining two matches to stay alive in the tournament and cruised to victory tonight with a huge win that kept India winless in the round phase.
A draw will not be enough for the Dutch and with their future riding on the sticks of their Pool B rivals, will have a nervous wait to see the result in the second match tomorrow afternoon.
Tomorrow’s play starts at 14:00 with Japan’s clash with Spain.
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