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Germany squeeze into semis, meet Dutch
Jane Barrett |
August 24, 2004 10:37 IST
World champions Germany squeezed their way into the men's hockey semi-finals at the Olympics on Monday to set up a clash with the Dutch, who are going for their third gold in a row.
Meanwhile, Australia were beaten into second place in their pool and will now meet Spain in their eighth Olympic semis.
Germany needed a draw against South Korea to make the last four and pulled the 2-2 equaliser out of the bag less than five minutes from the end.
"We started a little nervously because none of us has reached an Olympic semi-final before. But tonight you saw the great team spirit we have. We knit together and that's what brings us through," said German captain Florian Kunz.
The South Koreans, silver medallists in Sydney in 2000, sprinted up and down the field and pierced the notoriously tight German defence regularly but couldn't net another goal to pull ahead and into the last four.
When the hooter went, they collapsed in despair, some of them sitting and staring at their shoes for minutes.
Germany now meet the Netherlands, who put on another display of their relentless drive when they beat Australia 2-1, keeping their copybook clean with five wins from five.
Australia -- who are desperate to add a gold to their haul of three Olympic silvers and three bronzes -- battled hard but came up against rock solid defence, which only allowed one of their 14 goal attempts into the net.
"Today's result shows we need to prepare more but we're confident we can build on what we have to beat Spain," said corner specialist Troy Elder.
Spain have shown both brilliance and dogged teamwork in Athens where the experience of coach Maurits Hendriks is keeping the young side on an even keel.
"The team is at its best and can beat anyone, I'm convinced of that. We're not scared of anyone. We've come to win a medal," said Hendriks, who led the Netherlands to their 2000 title.
Lower down in Pool A, Pakistan thrashed Britain 8-2 to take third place and set up what should be a thrilling play-off with historic rivals India.Hundreds of Pakistanis and Indians living in Athens have flooded the stands every time their teams play so the noise could well drown out the cheers on the semi-final pitch.