Pakistan takes the ‘wooden spoon'
New Delhi: Demonstrating the dynamics of modern hockey in all its depth and dimension, Germany lined itself up for a hat-trick of World Cup triumphs on Thursday.
The 4-1 verdict against England gave the defending champion a fourth visit to the summit where it confronts Australia in the final on Saturday. Australia eliminated the Netherlands by two goals to one.
From the fifth minute, when Jan-Morco Montag drove in a perfect penalty corner, till the final whistle, the Germans unfolded their technical excellence and tactical acumen to pin down the Englishmen. Immaculate trapping and intelligent passing was the feature of every one of the German sallies.
Backed up by a defensive apparatus, held firmly by skipper Max Mueller, and aided by the commanding mid-field, the German domination was absolute. In the frontline, Christoph Menke and Oliver Korn broke through repeatedly to test the efficiency of the English goalkeeper James Fair.
The second goal by Korn, from a penalty corner, exposed the shortcomings in England's back zone, suffering from the absence of Richard Mantell.
When Richard Smith narrowed the lead from a penalty corner midway through, there were signs of England surging back into contention. But that line of thinking proved erroneous.
England's goal survived a tense moment when Fair made a desperate save off a rebound flick by Matthias Witthaus. Close on half-time Marin Haner pumped in the third goal and victory was confirmed when Linus Butt netted the fourth.
The second semifinal was contested with palpable intensity. Australia's early probes were met with stoic resistance by the Dutch defenders, including the veteran goalkeeper Guus Vogels. Grant Schubert was baulked by Vogels twice. The defenders had to work hard to keep the Aussie attack in check as the tricky runs by Jamie Dwyer, Desmond Abbott and Glenn Turner posed a challenge or two. But the experience of defenders like Geert Derrick denied them much leeway inside the circle.
Teun di Nooijer, who led the Dutch attack well by making deep inroads, was unlucky to see one of his shots fired at the end of a sinuous run hit the post and spin back.
The Aussies broke the Dutch spirit with an impeccable drag-flick late in the first half. Turner helped Australia hoist the second goal with a deceptive flick latching on to a forward pass.
The Dutch had a spell of dominance forcing two penalty corners. When a fierce drive by Taeke Taekema hit a defender at the goalmouth, the video umpire awarded a stroke. Taekema converted for his 20th goal in the World Cup and 200th of his career.
Earlier, Pakistan's prestige plummeted to a new low as it finished 12th and last for the first time since the inauguration of the event in 1971. Its worst show thus far had been the 11th place in 1986 at Willesden.
Leading twice in the contest, the four-time champion tumbled against Canada following the golden goal by Scott Tupper, three minutes from end in the extra-time.
Selection committee fired
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Hockey Federation president Qasim Zia has fired the national side's management and selection committee hours after the team's disastrous show.
The PHF said in a statement that Zia “has dissolved the team management and national selection committee after the poor performance in the World Cup.”
Former Olympians Hasan Sardar, Rana Mujahid, Khalid Bashir and Farhat Khan were on the selection panel while the team was coached by Shahid Ali Khan.
Manager of the team Asif Bajwa will continue as PHF secretary.
11-12: Canada 3 (Connor Grimes, Mark Pearson, Scott Tupper-golden goal) bt Pakistan 2 (Rehan Butt, Akhtar Ali). HT 1-1.
Semifinals: Germany 4 (Jan-Marco Montag, Oliver Korn, Martin Haner, Linus Butt) bt England 1 (Richard Smith). HT 3-1.
Australia 2 (Luke Doerner, Glenn Turner) bt Netherlands 1 (Taeke Taekema). HT 1-0.
Friday's matches: 9-10: New Zealand vs. South Africa (3.35 p.m.); 7-8: India vs. Argentina (6.05 p.m.); 5-6: Korea vs. Spain (8-35 p.m.) .