Vietnam and Germany Into World Cup Semis

Thanh Nam Nguyen and Chi Dung Long

33/1 outsiders Vietnam continued to upset the form book at the 2006 World Cup of Pool as they came from behind once again to oust favourites Italy and book a spot in Sunday's semi-final line-up where they face either USA or Hong Kong.

The Hanoi-based pairing of Thanh Nam Nguyen and Chi Dung Long have catapaulted themselves into the big league of international pool with a string of brave performances and their easy-going antics have made them a hot with Welsh audiences too.

The pair were ecstatic following their win and with a guaranteed US$8,000 each - three times the national average wage - for reaching the semis, they had every reason to smile.

Following wins over Croatia, Holland and now Italy, the Vietnamese will be full of confidence for their semi-final match.

The Italian pairing of Fabio Petroni and Angelo Millauro were always in the match and did well to level things up at 7 all from 7-5 down and when they moved broke for the match at 8-7 they must have believed the win was theirs.

There was some tense safety play at the beginning of the 16th rack and both sides had opportunities to assert themselves but the risks always seemed to outweigh the rewards. It was the Viets who found the necessary opening to square things up.

The lag came into play once again for the Vietnamese as they broke off in their third consecutive hill-hill match.

A fantastic 7/1 combination under severe pressure from Nguyen gave them a great chance but a poor positional shot from Thanh piled more pressure on his partner.

He rose to the occasion though and made a tremendous table length shot to take out the 2 ball and from there the Vietnamese held their collective nerve to record another magnificent 9-8 victory.

Earlier Germany continued their march towards the World Cup of Pool final with a fine victory against fifth seeds Taiwan.

The German pairing of Thomas Engert and Oliver Ortmann secured a 9-4 success and will now meet either Philippines or the Czech Republic in the semi-final.

A delighted Engert said: "I felt more confident and more calm than I did yesterday when we played against Spain as we knew, on paper, that we are the better team. But today we knew that Taiwan have Yang, who is one of the best players in the world, and we had to play well.

"We got our chances and took them but also got lucky when we missed a shot and they were in a bad position. I think we put them under pressure to go 5-2 ahead and they missed shots so we knew we had a chance to win.

"When you play against a really good team it doesn't matter how the game works as that's your hardest match. In the first round (against Wales) we only missed one shot and run out every game but it's not always like that."