Japan overwhelmed Singapore 8-0 to shut out thrice winners Pakistan from medal contention in Pool A and set up a semifinal clash with holders India in the seventh BSNL Asia Cup hockey tournament in Chennai on Thursday.
In a one-sided contest, Japanese captain Yamabori Takshiko led the attack with a hat-trick of field goals (6th, 8th and 12th minute) and Yoshida Kazuo (26th) and Tsubouchi Kazuhiro (33th) increased the margin to 5-0 at the break.
In the second half too, Japan dominated proceedings and scored three more goals through Mitsuru Ito (42nd), Akira Ito (54th) and Sho Ota (58th).
Japan (three wins and a loss) finished runner-up with nine points in the Pool. Malaysia (three wins and a draw) topped the pool with 10 points after they poured cold water on Pakistan's hopes with a comeback 3-3 draw on Wednesday.
Pakistan, who completed their league engagements with seven points (two wins, one draw and one loss), had the slimmest chance of entering the semifinal if Singapore pulled off an upset win or holds Japan to a draw. But no miracle happened and Japan kept their reputation intact.
Singapore finished at the bottom having lost all their four matches.
Japan's best finish in the Asia Cup so far had been fourth place.
Japanese captain Yamabori told the post-match conference that his team looked forward to play India in the semifinal and would give a tough fight. "We want to win the semifinal," he added.