Germany, the Netherlands and Korea have a realistic chance (Preview)

March 8th, 2010 - 8:42 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) Defending champions Germany take on New Zealand while three-time winners the Netherlands clash with Korea in two key games that will decide the semi-finalists from Pool A at at the Hockey World Cup here Tuesday.
After Germany’s 2-2 draw Sunday with European arch-rivals the Netherlands at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, Pool A has opened up again. Germany, Asian champions Korea and the Netherlands are now all in fray for the two semi-final spots from the group.

Mathematically, New Zealand also have an outside chance, but they have to defeat Germany by a nine-goal margin and then hope the Netherlands either beat or draw with Korea in the second game.

After four games, pool toppers the Netherlands are on 10 points, while second placed Germany have two less.

Korea closely follow the top two with seven points, and New Zealand have collected half a dozen.

In the day’s first match, if Germany beat the Black Sticks, they automatically qualify for the last four. If they finish with a draw, Germany can make the cut for the last four if Korea fail to beat the Dutch in the later match.

If Germany, eyeing a hat-trick of World Cup titles, lose they can get into the semis only if the Netherlands beat Korea.

Head to head, Germany are far ahead. They have triumphed in all four World Cup clashes with New Zealand. The two sides last met in the 2008 Beijing Olympics where Germany won 3-1.

After being held 2-2 by Korea in their opener, Germany came back strongly to vanquish Canada 6-0 and pipped Argentina 4-3, before the drawn game opposite the Netherlands.

The Germans have brought an inexperienced side, with the promising 18-year-old Florian Fuchs the leading scorer with three field goals.

New Zealand, eighth in world rankings, have queered the pitch for making semi-finals by going down 0-1 to tournament’s lowest-rated team Argentina Sunday.

The Netherlands, on the other hand, need a draw or can afford to even lose by a solitary-goal-margin against the Asian Games gold medallists Korea to qualify for the semi-finals, if the Germans beat the Black Sticks.

The Dutch, who have impressed with their fluent game and a tight defence, will automatically qualify for the semis if Germany fail to beat New Zealand. The Dutch, led by the veteran gamemaker Teun de Nooijer, have conceded only three goals in the compeition so far, with Guus Vogels being outstanding under the bar.

Korea, who finished fourth in the last two editions of the tournament, can go into the pre-summit round if they beat the Netherlands by a two-goal margin and Germany beat New Zealand.

If the Germans finish with a draw against New Zealand, the Asian champions would need to win their match Tuesday to sail through.

Again, if Germany lose, Korea would need at least a draw against the Dutch to make it to the pre-title round. World Cup history favours the Netherlands, who have won three of their four Cup games with Korea.

In contrast, Korea have beaten the Netherlands in their last three competitive encounters, all in Champions Trophy competition.

Canada play Argentina in an inconsequential game to wrap up Pool engagements Tuesday.

While Argentina have three points, Canada is the only side without a point in the competition.

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