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 March 5, 2002 | 1730 IST
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The Netherlands romp into semis

The Netherlands beat South Africa 3-0 to take their place in the men's hockey World Cup semi-finals on Tuesday.

They joined Germany, who had made the grade after beating Pakistan in an earlier Pool A match.

The cup holders showed their world class credentials, despite the searing heat, to take the lead when Teun de Nooijer picked his way through the South African defence before beating Dave Staniforth after 14 minutes.

Karel Klaver brought a flying save from Staniforth before leaving the entire South African defence flatfooted in the 29th minute and gliding the ball home on his reverse stick.

Piet Hein Geeris completed the scoring early in the second half, and thereafter the Dutch contained the South Africans without undue trouble.

"I am a happy man," said Dutch coach Joost Bellaart. "That was the toughest yet and if the temperature was not 40 degrees, it felt like it. Several of the players didn't feel well after the warm-up," he added.

Germany, the tournament favourites, confirmed their position at the top of pool A and a semifinal berth through two penalty flick conversions from captain Florian Kunz --his first two scores of the championship -- in a 3-2 win over Pakistan.

Germany's other goal came from Sascha Reinelt while two Sohail Abbas penalty corners either side of half time counted for Pakistan.

OFFICIAL PROTEST

Pakistan team manager Brigadier Khalid Sajjad Kohkhar lodged an official protest after the match claiming that the European umpires were biased against his side.

Japan bagged their third win of the finals beating Cuba 4-2 after coming from behind twice.

Skipper Takahiko Yamahori got the opener in the 26th minute and the final goal after 64 minutes. Akira Takahashi (33rd) and Makoto Karuo (62nd) got the other two.

Cuba's marksmen were Yoandi Blanco (19th) and Jose Rodriguez (30th).

Playing this morning, New Zealand just held on to beat Belgium 4-3 after the Belgians scored twice in the last three minutes. It moved New Zealand above South Africa and nailed Belgium to last place.

Hayden Shaw was New Zealand's hero with a hat-trick of penalty corners (24th, 41st, 62nd minutes).

Still to come in pool A is Argentina against Spain, neither of whom can now overhaul the Dutch.

In pool B, Australia are guaranteed a semifinal slot before they line up against India. Korea's plus-11 goal difference makes them near certainties to join the Australians even if they are defeated by England.

OUTSIDE CHANCE

The hosts Malaysia have an outside chance but they need to rattle in the goals against Poland to do so.

The players have a rest day on Wednesday before the semifinals on Thursday and the remaining 12 teams play off for places five to 16 on Friday.

On Saturday, the tournament closes with the final and third and fourth place play off between the beaten semifinalists.

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