After a gruelling round robin stages of the Asian Champions Trophy, we are into the semi-finals of the competition, with some brilliant contests set to take place in Kuantan, Malaysia, on Saturday. India, who have not lost a single game in the ACT 2016, will take on South Korea, while hosts Malaysia will face Pakistan.
Both the matches have it them to be a humdinger contest, and here is a look at both the matches one-by-one.
India vs South Korea
India have justified their favourites tag with some quality play in the ACT, which helped them grab top spot after the round robin stage as well. They were undefeated in the competition, and their only blip -- draw -- came against South Korea (1-1), who are also their opponents for the semi-final.
However, India should be confident ahead of the semi-final, as they managed to draw against South Korea even when they were not at their best. India are sure to take their game notch higher when it matters most against South Korea. After that draw, India thrashed China, and emerged victorious in close encounters against Pakistan and Malaysia.
They are going to go into this match as favourites, with players like Rupinder Pal Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh in ominous goal-scoring form. But, they cannot afford to take it easy against their opponents, who will hope to take advantage of the inconsistent India defence. With South Korea known to possess pacy players, India defence will be tested and also exploited if they commit silly errors and concede easy possession.
Date: Saturday, October 29
Time: 3.45pm IST, 6.15pm Malaysia, 7.15pm South Korea
TV listings: Star Sports 4 (India)
Malaysia vs Pakistan
Malaysia are a quality hockey side, and on the rise while Pakistan are traditionally a strong team, which makes up for a thrilling semi-final. Both the teams faced one another in the Asian Champions Trophy opener, which produced a great contest, with the hosts winning 4-2.
Now, Malaysia will hope for a repeat performance in the semi-finals, with an eye in the final. Pakistan, after that loss against Malaysia, have played some good hockey and only lost once, to India in a close contest, where they were leading 2-1 at one point in time. But Pakistan are aware that they need to come with some improved performance against Malaysia, who are always a strong team at home.
Pakistan's defence needs to be on top of their game against Malaysia, whose offensive players can drill goals at will if given easy chances to score. Malaysia have been a huge threat in front of goal, scoring 18 goals in the competition, and they will go into this game confident.
Date: Saturday, October 29.
Time: 6pm IST, 5:30 pm PKT, 8:30pm Malaysia.