THE HAGUE: Argentina made their maiden appearance in the Men’s Hockey World Cup semifinals after posting a comprehensive 5-1 victory over South Africa at the Kyocera Stadium on Tuesday. Argentina’s victory, their fourth in five outings, gives them 12 points and ousts Olympic champions Germany from the semifinal race. Argentina, placed 11 in the world rankings, continued their robust game to seal their first-ever semifinal with Gonzago Peillat and Lucas Vila scoring two goals each after Joaquin Menini opened the scoring in the 20th minute. South Africa’s lone goal came from the sticks of Clinton Panther, but Argentina had by then done enough to secure entry into the semifinals. Argentina’s previous best finish in the men’s World Cup was sixth position they secured in the 1986 and 2002 World Cups.
Germany ended their Pool B campaign in positive fashion by claiming a 6-1 victory over South Korea, although it proved to be only a small consolation to the fact that the Olympic Champions have missed out on the World Cup semifinals. This is only the second time in World Cup history that the Germans have not advanced to the semifinals. The only previous occasion was in the inaugural World Cup in 1971 when Kenya made the semifinals at the expense of West Germany. Germany have six points from four matches after suffering identical 0-1 defeats against Argentina and hosts The Netherlands. Olympic silver medalists The Netherlands were the first to secure passage into the semifinals from Group B with four straight wins.
Argentina’s 5-1 triumph against South Africa earlier in the day killed off any hopes of Max Mueller’s men claiming a top two finish in Pool B, ensuring that Los Leones join host nation the Netherlands in the semis. The best Germany can now hope for is a 5th place finish, which would equal the position that they achieved at the 1971 World Cup in Barcelona, Spain. As it stands, Germany occupy 3rd place in the pool, with 4th placed New Zealand needing a huge victory over the Netherlands in the evening game if they are to set up a meeting with Belgium in the 5-6 classification match. For Korea, the result confirmed a fifth place finish in Pool B, setting up a 9-10 classification match-up against India.
The result of the Argentina versus South Africa contest seemed to be playing heavily on the minds of the Germany players in the early stages, with the world number 2 struggling to find their usual rhythm. However, that all changed in the 19th minute when Germany’s Christopher Wesley guided a high cross-shot from Florian Fuchs into the roof of the Korean goal, giving Germany a 1-0 lead and sparking a period of dominance. The advantage was doubled three minutes later thanks to a tap-in from Benedikt Fuerk, before Martin Zwicker crashed home a glorious backhand strike to put Germany 3-0 up ahead of half time.
Korea - who were missing the experienced Lee Namyong through injury for the third game in succession - were much improved in the second period, although German wunderkind Christopher Ruehr almost added a fourth with a penalty corner flick that crashed against the right post. Korea’s persistence paid off in the 51st minute when Nam Hyunwoo fired home a penalty corner, although Germany’s three goal advantage was restored when Ruehr set up ace-marksman Florian Fuchs. Oliver Korn added a fifth in the 65th minute, cleverly lifting the ball over onrushing substitute keeper Kim Jaehyeon after a penetrating run from Thilo Stralkowski before Christopher Zeller buried an overtime penalty corner to finish the match scoring.
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