South Africa had stunned defending champions New Zealand in their last group stage match to finish second in Pool A behind six-time champions Australia. India, on the other hand, finished at the top of Group B ahead of England.
The Indians are unbeaten in the tournament so far, recording three wins and a draw. South Africa, on the other hand, recorded two wins and a draw and a loss each.
India had beaten Ghana 11-0 in their opening game, but was held out by England to a frustrating 4-4 draw. In their third game, they defeated Canada 8-0 and then defeated Wales 4-1.
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Judging by current form and world status, World No. 5 Indians will start out as overwhelming favorites against World No. 13 South Africa.
India’s vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh is in top form and leads the top scorers list with nine goals. He converted no less than eight penalty corners and scored one from the spot.
As if Harmanpreet wasn’t enough, the presence of Varun Kumar, Jugraj Singh and Amit Rohidas gives India a wide range of variation in penalty corners.
While skipper Manpreet Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad formed the backbone of the Indian midfield, Nilkanta Sharma has impressed everyone with his performance in the tournament so far.
On the front line, the ever-trustworthy Mandeep Singh was a living thread. Not only did he create chances, but he also placed himself in the right position at the right time to score beautiful poaching goals.
In Mandeep, Lalit Upadhayay, Shamsher Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Abhishek the Indians boast of a threatening attack force and the South African defense will have to play out of their skin to keep them under control.
India’s only blemish in the Games so far has been the game against England, where they were leading 3-0 at one point before concentration and lack of discipline allowed the home team to finish the game in a 4-4 stalemate.
India would exercise disciplined and avoid unnecessary cards, which cost them dearly against England.
Harmanpreet said the bronze medal finish at the Tokyo Olympics gave the team confidence.
“We learned a lot about ourselves as a team at the Tokyo Olympics, which helped us improve as a team. But first our goal is for tomorrow’s game and we are all set,” he said.
South Africa, meanwhile, would be confident after beating higher-ranked New Zealand.
South Africa is known for sitting back and surprising its opponents with strong counter-attacks.
“It doesn’t matter who we play against in the semi-finals, we just focus on that game and see what happens,” said drag flicker Connor Beauchamp.
Australia will face England in the other semi-final.
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