Men and Women’s FIH Hockey World League Semifinals have reached the round-of-eight and while men’s quarterfinals are scheduled for Tuesday, women’s matches will be held on Wednesday. The tournament will conclude on July 5, 2015 and after that the men’s world league finals will be held in Mohali during December 5-13, 2015. The Mohali event will have the top seven team from the Antwerp tournament along with India. At the end of the group stage at Antwerp, Australian men’s team expectedly proved to be the best team in Group A with four wins from four matches that included victories over Pakistan and India with huge margins. There is no doubt about their qualification to the Rio Olympics but Australia also want to win the Antwerp tournament as well. India lost to Australia but finished second in the group with Pakistan at the third place. Pakistan’s best performance was a 2-2 draw against India but they fumbled badly in their other matches. In Group A, France finished fourth. In Group B, Belgium finished at the top ahead of Great Britain, who didn’t lose a single game. With two wins and two draws, they had a great performance. Malaysia finished third and Ireland fourth. Among women, Pool A was dominated by Netherlands and Pool B by New Zealand. Both sides won all their four matches. Dutchwoman Maartje Paumen was sensational in scoring eight goals while New Zealand’s Gemma Flynn scored seven. But both women were beaten by Australia’s Jodie Kenny, who scored 9 times
In the women’s quarterfinals on Tuesday, Australia will play Italy; New Zealand will take on Japan; India take on the formidable Netherlands and Belgium will play Korea. The Koreans have already secured their Olympic ticket by winning Gold at the 2014 Asian Games, but they may still be aiming for the top-four finish in Antwerp to qualify for the prestigious HWL Final in Argentina in year end.
In the men’s draw, Australia had the best performance in Group A winning all their four matches with 26 goals scored against their opponents while conceding just 3. India was second with two victories, one loss and a drawn game against Pakistan. Pakistan and France took the third and fourth places. The Group B was topped by hosts Belgium with Great Britain, Malaysia and Ireland taking the secod, third and fiurth places respectively. In Wednesday’s quarterfinals, Australia will take on Ireland; Great Britain will play Pakistan, India squares off with Malaysia and Belgium will fight out with France.
As for Indian men’s performance in the tournament, they have faced their only defeat against the Australians, who play machine-like hockey. Against their quarterfinal opponents Malaysia, they lost to them in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2015. But with a new coach and improved performance, India would try their best to avenge that defeat against their Asian counterparts.
As for women, they have a formidable opponent in the Netherlands but the team is not dispirited. Though the India women lost 2-4 against Australia, their overall performance was not so bad and therefore, they should be able to counter the challenge posed by the Dutchwomen on Wednesday.