India-Pakistan set for enthralling Champions Trophy clash



High on confidence, the Indian team will lock horns with arch-rivals Pakistan in the semifinal of men's hockey Champions Trophy at Kalinga stadium here Saturday.

India beat Belgium 4-2 in a thrilling last eight match while Pakistan, despite losing their all three league group matches, stormed into the semis stunning 2012 Olympics silver medallists the Netherlands by an identical margin Thursday.

World champions Australia will meet Olympic champions Germany in another semifinal Saturday.

But all attention will be on the India-Pakistan match, where not only sporting supremacy but pride of both the nations will be at stake.

India will head into the contest with pleasant memories of beating Pakistan in the Incheon Asian Games final in October to lift the men's hockey gold after 16 years.

The win earned India a direct entry into the 2016 Rio Olympics and Pakistan will be plotting to avenge the double blow.

"Recently we played against Pakistan in the Asian games. The way Pakistan performed in the quarter-finals against the Netherlands, shows that it is going to be tough for us," Roelant Oltmans, Indian team coach said Friday.

"The semi-final will be a different match and we will play with specific strategies."

He also said the Indian team is performing well and hopes it will continue to play well Saturday.

Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh was glad his team is facing India as it will test their mettle.

"I am happy that we are playing against India in the semi-final after the Asian games. I hope our team will perform well," Sheikh said.

A capacity crowd is expected at the stadium as all tickets have been sold out long before the commencement of the match. - IANS