Pakistan to face Argentina today in Hockey World League semi-final

India missed their initial momentum at the Hockey World League Semi-final in London, beaten 3-1 first by fourth-ranked Netherlands in their last pool match, and then losing 3-2 to Malaysia in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak has conveyed his congratulations to the Malaysian men's hockey team which qualified for the 2018 Men's Hockey World Cup to be played in India.

Going by form and ranking, world no. 6 India start overwhelming favourites against the 14th-placed Malaysians. The first quarter ended goalless with Malaysia controlling the proceedings.

In the end, it was India's inability to stem the flow of penalty corners and Malaysia's ability to convert them made the difference.

India however shook off the starting jitters with a better performance in the later part of the second quarter. Luckily for India, Ramandeep showed wonderful opportunism to slot the ball in past the Malaysian defenders. This spectacular goal narrowed India's gap to 1-2.

Spain relentlessly attacked and went on to score two more goals via Lola Riera on the 31st and 36th minute, bringing the score up to 3-1. Malaysia for sure have India's number.

The two teams couldn't make much progress in the third quarter. Harmanpreet Singh once again had an off-day, taking short corners with soft hands. Malaysia won a PC when Najmi Jazlan found defender Surender Kumar's foot in the circle. Razie's first penalty corner flick was blocked by goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya and the rebound went to Faizal Saari, who shot into the side of the net despite having a view of the goal.

India's midfield, led by the talismanic Sardar Singh and skipper Manpreet Singh, will have to take more responsibility while the inexperienced defence needs to pull up its socks as one bad day in office can now throw the team out of the tournament. Malaysia will now clash with Argentina in the semifinals. Another chance went amiss for India when Ramandeep's deflection going wide of the post ending the match in Malaysia's favour.

  • Angelo Rivera