Netherlands hockey team in action against New Zealand during Hockey World Cup Â© AFP
Olympic silver medalists Netherlands on Tuesday, set up a semifinal encounter with England in the men's hockey World Cup.
Netherlands played a relaxed 1-1 draw with New Zealand in their last league fixture and still topped Group B with 13 points from five outings. Argentina, who earned their maiden men's World Cup semifinals with a 5-1 win over South Africa, finished second in the group with 12 points, ousting reigning Olympic champions Germany from the semifinal race.
In the semifinals, three-time champions Netherlands will take on England, while Argentina will meet defending champions Australia on Friday.
Velantin Verga gave Netherlands the lead against New Zealand with an opportunistic strike in the eighth minute, but the Dutch did not put too much energy into the game thereafter.
They apparently wanted to avoid any injuries ahead of the semifinals. New Zealand striker Simon Childs weaved his way past three defenders to sent a firm shot past goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann for the equaliser seven minute from the hooter.
Germany, having failed to make the semifinals for only the second time in World Cup history, hammered South Korea 6-1 in their last league fixture. Germany finished with nine points and paid the penalty for suffering identical 1-0 defeats against Netherlands and Argentina.
The only previous occasion that the Germans were not in the semifinals was in the inaugural World Cup in 1971 when Kenya made the semifinals at the expense of West Germany.
Argentina's previous best finish in the men's World Cup was the sixth position they got in the 1986 and 2002 World Cups. Argentina, placed No. 11 in the world rankings, continued their robust game to seal their first-ever semifinal with Gonzago Peillat and Lucas Vila scoring two goals each after Joaquin Menini opened the scoring in the 20th minute.
South Africa's lone goal came from Clinton Panther, but Argentina had by then done enough to secure entry in the semifinals