Thanks to a medal round consisting solely of semifinals and medal games, men's field hockey is the final team sport to conclude preliminary play at the 2012 Summer Olympics. After the jump, I'll take a look at which teams still have a chance to earn one of the three remaining places in the last four.
Note: The FIH awards 3 points for a win and 1 for a draw.
Current Standings: 1. Australia, 2. Great Britain, 3. Pakistan, 4. Spain, 5. Argentina (eliminated), 6. South Africa (eliminated)
Australia (8 points) is aiming for its sixth straight Olympic medal and first gold since Athens. The Kookaburras, who currently hold the World Cup, Champions Trophy, and Commonwealth Games titles, had one foot in the semifinals on Sunday evening, when they took a 3-0 lead against Great Britain (also on 8 points). However, the hosts rallied to tie their hockey Ashes match, a result that actually puts both teams in control of their semifinal fates. Australia closes group play needing only a point against traditional power Pakistan (7 points) (5:45 a.m. ET) to move on. The Pakistanis need a victory to stay in the hunt for their first Olympic medal in 20 years. The British, who only compete as a combined team in the Olympics, is in search of its first medal since Seoul. They can give themselves a three-in-four chance by grabbing a point against Spain (7 points) (2 p.m. ET). Like Pakistan, the Spanish need to take all three points in the contest to move on. The only Group A contest without semifinal implications sees eliminated Argentina (1 point) and South Africa (1 point) meet to determine their respective placement games (8:45 a.m. ET).
Projected Standings: 1. Australia (9 pts.), 2. Great Britain (9 pts.), 3. Pakistan (8 pts.), 4. Spain (8 pts.), 5. Argentina (4 pts.), 6. South Africa (1 pt.)
Current Standings: 1. Netherlands, 2. Germany, 3. South Korea, 4. Belgium (eliminated), 5. New Zealand (eliminated), 6. India (eliminated)
The Netherlands' men's squad (12 points) may not be quite as dominant as the women's, but they have an excellent shot at gold in London. The men in orange, who have already clinched position B1, close their round-robin with a game against South Korea (6 points) (3:30 a.m. ET). The Koreans are one of two teams still alive for the group's second semifinal spot. The other, Beijing champion Germany (9 points), has the inside track, as they take on eliminated New Zealand (4 points) in the final preliminary contest (4:15 p.m. ET), rather than a championship favorite. Struggling power India (0 points) wraps its group schedule up against Belgium (4 points) (11 a.m. ET) in a game that will only help determine the Belgians seeding for the placement round.
Projected Standings: 1. Netherlands (15 pts.), 2. Germany (12 pts.), 3. Belgium (7 pts.), 4. South Korea (6 pts.), 5. New Zealand (4 pts.), 6. India (0 pts.)
Those makes my projected men's field hockey bracket look like this...
(A1) Australia vs. (B2) Germany
(B1) Netherlands vs. (A2) Great Britain
Those matchups mean the Kookaburras would need to get past the defending champions to earn a shot at gold, while the impressive Dutch would need to get past the hosts. That's not an easy task given the crowds at Riverbank Arena.
UPDATE: Great Britain picked up the point it needed against Spain to complete the semifinal lineup. Now that the final six preliminaries are in the books, here is how the remaining schedule looks.
9th/10th place: (A5) Argentina vs. (B5) New Zealand, 3:30 a.m. ET
7th/8th: (A4) Pakistan vs. (B4) South Korea, 6:30 a.m. ET
Semifinal No. 1: (A1) Australia vs. (B2) Germany, 10:30 a.m. ET
Semifinal No. 2: (B1) Netherlands vs. (A2) Great Britain, 3 p.m. ET
11th/12th place: (A6) South Africa vs. (B6) India, 3:30 a.m. ET
5th/6th place: (A3) Spain vs. (B3) Belgium, 6:30 a.m. ET
Bronze Medal Match: 10:30 a.m. ET
Gold Medal Match: 3 p.m. ET
Who are your picks for the medals?
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