India are within sniffing distance of a spot in the 2014 World Cup of hockey in the Netherlands after South Korea defeated Pakistan in a semifinal match of the Asia Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia on Friday. The defeat brought gloom in the Pakistan camp because for the first time in 42 years, the Asian giants will not feature in a world championship. (Read: Pakistan mourn 'darkest day in sports')
India will guarantee themselves a berth in the World Cup if they can beat Korea in the Asia Cup final in Ipoh on Sunday. Earlier this week, India had beaten the Koreans, the defending champions, 2-0 in the group stage. In case of a defeat, India will still have a chance. Only in the extremely unlikely case of Fiji beating Australia or New Zealand to clinch the Oceania Cup, India will lose out on a World Cup spot. (Read: Indian Olympians urge team to focus on improving before 2014 World Cup)
Interestingly, it was Pakistan that mooted the idea of a World Cup. The first World Cup was played in Barcelona, Spain in 1971 and Pakistan won the 10-team tournament while India finished third. Pakistan have won the World Cup the maximum number of four times while India won just once in 1975.