The 2018 Asian Games Men's Hockey group league matches are still underway. The big four of Asian Hockey, viz India, Pakistan, South Korea and Malaysia, have won their respective matches against the other lower ranked teams, thus far.
With only one group league game left for each team, the favourites, India and Pakistan, are already through to the semifinals and are at the top of their respective groups.
Indian Team's Performance in the Group Stages
The Indian team has been in rollicking form. They started off their campaign against the hosts Indonesia, with a 17-0 victory. Then in their next match against Hong Kong, India netted 26 goals and won the match 26-0, thus breaking the world record for winning by the biggest margin. Then India thrashed Japan, 8-0 in their third match. This was a remarkable performance as the Japanese team is a top 20 team in the World and ranked 5th in Asia.
Then in the fourth match, India beat South Korea by a convincing 5-3 margin and sealed their semifinal spot. With only a match against Sri Lanka left, which India will most probably win by a big margin too, India is almost sure to top their group ahead of South Korea and Japan.
Pakistan Team's Performance in the Group Stages
The other favourites of the tournament, Pakistan, also had a very good start. They won their first two matches by beating Thailand and Oman by identical 10-0 margins. Then Pakistan beat Kazakhstan by a 16-0 margin in their third match.
In their fourth match, they beat Malaysia, who is the 2nd highest ranked team in Asia, by a 4-1 margin. Although Pakistan has a match left against Bangladesh, their win against Malaysia, almost ensures their top spot in the group.
Semifinals Probable Line-Up and Results
With India and Pakistan as group toppers and South Korea and Malaysia coming through as the 2nd best teams of the groups, the probable semifinal lineups will as follows.
1st Semifinal: India vs Malaysia
2nd Semifinal: Pakistan vs South Korea
India's performance of late makes them a firm favourite against the Malaysian Team, which has not been at its best, in this tournament. However, India should not take them lightly, as on their day, Malaysia can be very dangerous, and have the capability to beat any team in the world.
The second semifinal between Pakistan and South Korea is expected to be a very close contest. There is hardly anything to choose between the two teams. The team which plays better on the day will come out as winners. However, Pakistan's form in the tournament has been better than that of the South Koreans. Hence if the Pakistan team continues their good form, they should be able to beat the Koreans and reach the finals.
Concluding Comments and Probable Finals Result
Thus an India vs Pakistan Final is very much on the cards. And it will be a treat for all the hockey lovers in India and Pakistan.
India's recent performance against Pakistan has been very good. And if these two teams indeed meet in the Finals, then India will surely be the favourites to win against Pakistan.