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Argentina and Australia through to semi finals
02 Oct 2006 21:02

© Wolfgang Sternberger

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Argentina and Australia are the first teams through to the semi finals of the Samsung Hockey World Cup after a win and draw respectively in Madrid today earned them a chance to play in the medal matches.

After Australia’s draw with Japan to start the day, Las Leonas had the chance to put both teams into the final four with a victory over Korea.

However with a string of inconsistent performances on record in 2006, it was difficult to predict whether the Argentina team that took the field would be prepared for the challenge.

Korea needed to win the match to keep the semi final chances alive, but they were never able to create enough goal scoring chances or conquer the Argentina defence to put the result in doubt.

The most important part of the contest came just before half time when Luciana Aymar scored the best individual goal of the tournament to give her team a two-goal lead.

Korea couldn’t peg back the deficit in the second half as Argentina remained alert and composed in defence to run out comfortable winners.

The result also meant Australia also qualified for the semi finals after the Hockeyroos earlier squandered a chance to assure their place with a scoreless draw against Japan.

Australia was the better team but inefficiency in front of goal and poor skill execution resulted in play continually breaking down across their strike line.

Japan’s chances were limited mainly to counter attacks and their best chances of the match arrived early in the first half which the Australian goalkeeper handled with ease.

In the middle match of the day, USA outplayed South Africa en route to an important win that put them in the frame for a place in the 5-8 classification matches.

A pair of first half goals set the platform for USA and they continued to outrun and outplay South Africa to record their first win of the tournament.

The positioning of the bottom four teams will not be decided until the final round of Pool B matches on Wednesday however. In the final preliminary round, Argentina and Australia face off to decide top spot in the Pool, while USA play Korea and South Africa meet Japan.

In tomorrow’s matches, Netherlands has a chance to be the next team to qualify for the semi finals with a win against China, while England must defeat Germany to have any chance of a top two Pool A finish.

In the other match, Spain has the opportunity to enhance their semi final prospects but they must first overcome an Indian team that has proved extremely hard to topple so far.

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