The Fans of HockeyWorld Hockey NewsIndia vs Belgium, Australia vs Great Britain in final four at #HWL2015 in Antwerp

Australia, Great Britain, India and Belgium all sealed their places in the semi-finals of the men’s competition at the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp, Belgium.

Jasjit Sing and Gurmail Singh of India celebrating a goal during FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp (Credit: Koen Suyk)

Jasjit Sing and Gurmail Singh of India celebrating a goal during FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp (Credit: Koen Suyk)

These teams overcame the respective challenges of Ireland (4-1), Pakistan (2-1), Malaysia (3-2) and France (5-4) to reach the final four and book their tickets to the prestigious Hockey World League Finals, that will be played in India at the end of the year. Trailing by 1-2 at one time in first half, Jasjit scored 2 penalty corners in last quarter for India to come out victorious against the FIH Rank# 12 team.

The men’s semi-finals will take place on Friday 3rd July, with reigning world champions Australia facing Great Britain while host nation Belgium will go head-to-head with India (Timings and full schedule available here). In 5th-8th place classification matches Ireland will take on Pakistan, while Malaysia will be up against France. The top three finishers at the event will also be guaranteed tickets to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

In the first quarter of the match, Indian team started their campaign with repeated attacks and put an early pressure to the Malaysia team. Indians managed to play the ball in their opponent’s

half. Indians got their first success in the 3rd minute of the match when forward player Akashdeep Singh attacked from the right side and dribbled past the defenders before hitting it across the goal-box. Young Satbir Singh, who was standing near the left goal-post, just deflected the shot and sent the ball into the nets to score their first goal in the match. After conceding the goal in the first few minutes, Malaysian players counter-attached on the Indian side and tried to create some chances. In the 15th minute, Malaysia managed to earn their second penalty corner, which was converted by Malaysian skipper Razie Rahim into the equaliser and took the score-line to 1-1 by the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, both the teams stepped on the green astro-turf with more aggression and fought harder to take the lead. Indians attacked from all sides and penetrated into Malaysian half many occasions and looked for opportunities to score goals. In the 23rd minute, Malaysia charged back and managed to earn another penalty corner. Shahril Saabah effectively converted into a brilliant goal and helped his team to take 2-1 lead. After this goal, Indians played with more zeal and maintained the attacking game-plan. They managed to play the ball again in the opponent’s half and earned few penalty corners. But they failed to materialise the opportunities and eventually the second quarter finished at 1-2.

The third quarter started with intense battle from both sides. Indians continued their attacking strategies and maintained ball possession in their side. Indian midfielder, led by skipper Sardar Singh, Chinglensana Singh Lalit Upadhyay, Gurbaj Singh and Dharamvir Singh, dominated the midfield and kept the opponents busy. In defence, Indian defenders, led by Bikram Lakra, Manpreet Singh, Devindar Sunil Walmiki, Jasjit Singh Kular and Vice-Captain & goal-keeper PR Sreejesh, restricted every attacked from the opponent. After series of attacks and counter-attacks, both the teams could not add another goal in their kitty and the third quarter finished at 2-1 in favour of Malaysia.

In the fourth quarter, India played fiercely as they had the last chance to level the score. In the first few minutes, India earned two back-to-back penalty corners and in the second attempt in the 49th minute, young Jasjit scored a spectacular goal to equalise the score by 2-2. After leveling the score, Indians were looking for the winning goal and they continuously attacked on the opponent half. On the other side, Malaysians counter attacked many times but all their aggressive attacks were spoiled by PR Sreejesh, who stood like a wall in front of the goal-box. In the 56th minute, India earned a crucial penalty corner and Jasjit again successfully converted it into a winning goal, taking the score-card to 3-2. Malaysians fought back and managed to earn their last penalty corner in the dying moments. But the world-class goal-keeper PR Sreejesh defended his den firmly and helped his team to win the match by 3-2 at the final whistle.

India will play Semi-Final match of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final 2015 on the 3rd July 2015. The matches will be telecasted LIVE on Star Sports.

RIO Olympics Qualification: India’s achievement of reaching the competition semi-finals has determined the complete eight-team line-up for the end of year showpiece Hockey World League Final. India are hosting that event and will be joined by Australia, Great Britain and Belgium from the HWL Semi-Final in Antwerp was well as Germany, Argentina, Netherlands and Canada, who took the top four places at the recent Argentina HWL Semi-Final in Buenos Aires.

As they have already qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by virtue of winning the 2014 Asian Games, a top three finish for India in Antwerp will create an Olympic opening for the highest ranked of the fourth place finishers from two HWL Semi-Final events held in Argentina and Belgium. If India finish fourth, then only the top three from each competition will be confirmed for the Olympic Games at this stage.

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