New Delhi: The last league game in the 9th Asia Cup in Ipoh unfolded on the expected lines. India, having already secured a seat in the last four, rolled over the men from neighbouring Bangladesh 9-1 on Wednesday to confirm who plays who in the semi-finals.
India will take on hosts Malaysia, while Pakistan face the tough South Korean challenge for a place in the final that will not only decide who wins the 2013 Asia Cup but also who goes through to the 2014 World Cup. South Korea have already qualified for the quadrennial event to be held in The Hague, Netherlands.
With 9 points from three consecutive wins against Oman (8-0), South Korea (2-0) and Bangladesh (9-1), India finished top of Pool B. Pakistan is the only other unbeaten team in the tournament. They were the first to qualify for the semi-finals with a whopping 13-0 win against Chinese Taipei. Before that, they thumped Japan 7-0 and beat hosts Malaysia 4-1 to top Pool A.
Defending champions South Korea finished behind India in Pool B after losing to the two-time Asia Cup winners. Malaysia reached the semis finishing second in Pool A but not before a little scare from Japan who went ahead 2-0 against the hosts in the final Pool A match. However, egged on by home support, the Malaysians rallied to win 4-2.
Reaching the last-four stage was never a doubt for any of the four semi-finalists, who know that the real test starts now.
India have fielded a relatively young squad for the tournament, thanks to injuries to experienced players SV Sunil, Danish Mujtaba and Gurwinder Singh Chandi. But new coach Roelant Oltmans has held the team well so far.
For the record, India have won the Asia Cup twice while Pakistan and Korea have managed to do it three times each.
August 30, 2013
Pakistan vs South Korea - 1505 IST
India vs Malaysia - 1735 IST