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Men's medal contenders decided
22 Mar 2006 08:29

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Home team Australia stamped itself as the overwhelming gold medal favourite as the men’s semi finalists were decided on an exciting day seven at the XVIII Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

Each of the four matches played had a bearing on the composition on the semi final participants, with Pakistan, Malaysia, England and the home team emerging at the end of play to move through to the medal rounds.

Malaysia will face Australia in the first semi final on Friday while Pakistan and England square off on the other.

The major casualty of the day was India, who missed the semi finals only sure to their inferior goal scoring ability to Malaysia.

Entering the day, Australia was the only team to have confirmed their participation in the final four, but the other three spots were uncertain, especially in Pool B, which was decided in the first two matches.

Needing a win, draw or high scoring, one-goal loss to advance to the semi finals, Malaysia fell three goals behind Pakistan on two separate occasions before producing a storming comeback to eventually lose 6-5 – enough for them to finish behind today’s conquerors in Pool B.

The match was the most entertaining clash so far in the tournament, with both teams attacking at every opportunity to treat the crowd to an 11-goal thriller.

After defeating South Africa to open day seven competition, India was forced to wait patiently in the stands while Pakistan battled Malaysia in the proceeding match.

The result left India and Malaysia level on points and with the same goal difference, but Malaysia scored two more goals in the preliminary rounds compared to India – enough to propel the world number 13 into the medal reckoning.

England qualified for the semi finals after disposing of Canada and then watching as Australia over ran New Zealand in an imposing second half.

Needing to win to qualify for the semi finals, New Zealand matched Australia early and held the world number one for 40 minutes before a remarkable scoring spree in the second half, when six goals were scored in the space of 12 minutes.

New Zealand couldn’t match Australia’s firepower when the contest developed into a shoot out after the opening goal and eventually succumbed to a rampant home team.

The semi finals will be contested on Friday. The women’s semi finals and the non-medal classification matches will be played tomorrow (Thursday).

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