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FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023: Holders Belgium, Australia enter semis

Centre Court Developments

Defending champions Belgium and pre-tournament favourites Australia cleared their quarter final hurdles. but not after stiff resistance from their opponents, New Zealand Spain, respectively, in the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup at iconic Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar today.

While Belgium defeated New Zealand by two first half goals, Australia overcame 0-2 deficit and survived a penalty stroke five minutes before the final whistle to defeat Spain 4-3 in the first two quarter finals.

Playing without their star drag flicker Alex Hendricks, who suffered a torn knee ligament, Belgium started well taking the lead from the first penalty corner in the 11th minute. Tom Boon, one of lethal strikers, slammed the ball home past Dopminic Dixon in the New Zealand goal.

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Belgium did not take long to consolidate its lead. As the game resumed in the second quarter, Belgium saw Florent van Aubel scoring a brilliant field goal to make it 2-0.

Once in commanding lead, Belgium never lost its verve as it kept on testing the New Zealand citadel at regular intervals. The Kiwis too had their chances, including  a few penalties, last of which came in the 60th minute.

In their desperation to reduce the margin and stage a comeback, New Zealand replaced its goalkeeper with an attacking player in the 50th minute. The move, however, failed to pay dividends.Tomorrow the battles for remaining two quarter finals will witness England facing Germany and the Netherlands taking on the Asian challengers Korea.

Prabhjot Singh

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