Thursday, December 6, 2012

Champions Trophy - India beats Belgium; enters SF


Indians fans are breathing easy and feeling happy ~ at Melbourne, India beat Belgium to enter the Semi finals of Champions Trophy  2012 at Australia.

India started brilliantly in the preliminary beating fancied England and Newzealand.  In the new QF system, all the 8 teams in the fray qualify irrespective of the results in the prelims, but the top seed from one pool crosses over the play the bottom seed from the other pool, while the second and third seeded teams do the same. The format has been the source of spirited debate in international hockey circles, but like it or hate it, eight teams will be trimmed down to four at the end of tomorrow.

In today’s matches : Germany plays Pakistan; Netherlands vs. New Zealand; India vs. Belgium; while Australia plays England.  Being knock-out stage, a defeat would leave the Team relegated to a lower spot and playing for the final spotting. So it was a tough match for the 11th seeded India playing against the fourth-seeded Belgians.  Though it was Belgium’s first Champions Trophy appearance in the small nation’s history, India has little great to talk about in the Championship history.  

To the delight of Indian fans, India continued its cindrella run and won the match 1-0.  Nithin Thimmiah scored the winner  in the 13th minute — the move was started by Gurmail Singh, but it was Sardar Singh who shot the ball in the penalty area where Nitin converted from around 12 yards out. It was a lead that India did not relinquish. Belgium did come back hard towards the end of the first half and the ball went into the India goal twice but the goal was cancelled on both occasions by the umpire.
 photo courtesy: www.fih.ch

So after sitting out of the Champions Trophy for the last six editions, India is inching towards glory with that berth in the Semi finals.  The Indians will go for their first Champions Trophy medal since 1982 and are guaranteed their first top-four finish since 2004. A massive success considering the fact that the Indians came into the even as the lowest team in the FIH World Ranking, weighing in at #11.  It Was 150th International appearance for the Capt. Sardar Singh and it was made memorable indeed.  

India will play the winner of the fourth quarter-final, which follows next, between Australia and England. Earlier, in another game, Shakeel Abassi scored goals in the 39th and 51st minutes to give Pakistan a 2-1 win over Olympic gold medalist Germany in a men’s Champions Trophy field hockey quarterfinal. They made it to the semis for the first time since 2004.  Pak now would play Nederlands who beat New Zealand 2-0.

Happy days are here again !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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