Hockey World Cup: Australia keep date with last-4
Defending champions Belgium and three-time winners Australia booked semi-final spots in the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup after getting the better of Spain and New Zealand in their respective quarter-final matches here on Tuesday.
While Australia toiled hard for a 4-3 win over Spain in the first quarter final, Belgium did not face much problem in their 2-0 win over India’s conqueror New Zealand in the second last-eight match of the day at Kalinga Stadium.
With the win over Spain, Australia made their 12th straight semi-finals in the World Cup.
Winners of the 1986, 2010 and 2014 editions, Australia have made it to the last-4 of a World Cup on 11 occasions since Buenos Aires 1978.
They had lost to the Dutch in the semi-finals in a penalty shootout in the last edition here in 2018.
Belgium suffered a jolt just before their quarter-final match, as their star penalty corner expert Alexander Hendrickx was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament after he twisted his knee in their final Pool B match against Japan on January 20.
Belgium await the winner of Wednesday’s quarter final between England and Germany in the semi-finals, while title contenders Australia will face the winner of the other last-eight match between the Netherlands and South Korea.
It was a close affair in the Australia vs Spain quarter-final match but Jeremy Hayward’s two penalty corner strikes in the third quarter made the difference.
Spain captain Marc Miralles failed to score from a penalty stroke four minutes from the final hooter, when his team was training 3-4. Had he scored, the match would have gone to a shootout.