Hockey Olympic qualifier: Indian men close to reaching final; women in tight spot (Roundup)February 23rd, 2012 - 12:07 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) The Indian men’s hockey team brightened their chances of a place in the final of the 2012 London Olympic Qualifiers with a hard fought 3-2 win over Canada in their fourth match at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here Wednesday.
But there was heartbreak for the women’s team as their unbeaten run ended with a 2-5 defeat against tournament favourites South Africa. There are now in a must win situation in their fifth match against Italy.
With the defeat, India slipped from the top spot to third with seven points. South Africa lead the table with 10 points while Italy are second on eight.
In the men’s event, the clash between India (World No.10) and Canada (World No.14), the two highest ranked teams in the tournament, was much awaited.
It turned out to be a match that could have gone both ways but it was the brilliance of ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh that assured the eight-time Olympic champions full points. India remained on top of the table with full 12 points while Canada stayed fourth on six points.
Poland and France have nine points each but Poles are second on the basis of better goal difference. Poland have to beat India by a huge margin in their last match while a draw would be enough for the hosts to qualify for the final. France also need to beat Canada by a huge margin.
Both India and Canada were not willing to leave an inch, but it was Sandeep, who turned the match in India’s favour, converting two penalty corners (39th, 61st) after Shivendra Singh drew first blood in the 26th minute. Sandeep is now the leading scorer of the tournament with nine goals.
India were exceptional in passing but finishing let them down. The hosts were ordinary inside 4 metres.
Canada scored from the two opportunities that they got in a space of three minutes. The first came through a defensive blunder by make-shift defender Ignace Tirkey and Mark Pearson’s back-flicked helped Canada reduce the margin after India had taken a 2-0 lead in the 50th minute.
Scott Tupper converted a penalty corner in the 53rd minute to make it 2-2 but Sandeep hit the winning goal by converting a penalty corner in the 61st minute.
In the women’s event, South Africa, who are the highest World ranked team in the tournament at No.12, completely dominated the game and it was World No.13 India, who had to do the catching up job.
While the two teams are separated only by a spot in the FIH rankings, the difference in class was wide and apparent. It was a clinical performance by the South Africans and the hosts struggled to match them in speed, power and aggression.
Dirkie Chamberlain struck thrice (12th, 32nd, 58th) and Sulette Dammons (53rd, 67th) scored a brace for South Africa. India captain Asunta Lakra scored in the 23rd minute and Soundarya Yendala in the 52nd minute.
The game looked evenly poised in the first half but South Africa raised their tempo in the second as Indians ran out of steam.
The Indian defence was completely rusty and South Africa had a clear chance to open the scoring as early as in the second minute. India goalkeeper Savita had a busy day and had it not been for her, the hosts would have lost by a bigger margin.
Indians once again had problems in converting the penalty corners. The only time they got it right was when Asunta converted the third penalty corner to make it 1-1.
India were also lucky to make it 2-2 from the sixth penalty corner with Soundarya converting an indirectly taken hit. In all, India got six penalty corners but could convert only one.
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- Olympic qualifiers: Indian men thrash Italy 8-1, women beat Canada 4-1 (Roundup) - Feb 19, 2012
- India lose to Spain in second hockey Test - Jul 08, 2012
- Olympic qualifiers: Indian men's hockey team thrash France 6-2, women win 3-0 (Roundup) - Feb 21, 2012
- India's men's and women's hockey teams chasing Olympic dream - Feb 17, 2012
- Olympic hockey: India lose to SA, finish 12th - Aug 11, 2012
- Indian women lose in hockey Champions Challenge I - Jun 25, 2011
- Indian women beat Canada 4-1 in Olympic hockey qualifiers (Lead) - Feb 19, 2012
- Indian women settle for bronze in hockey - Apr 16, 2012
- India beat South Africa 6-5 in hockey Test - Jul 09, 2012
- Indian women miss bronze in four-nation meet (Lead, With corrections) - Apr 16, 2012
- India thrash Poland 4-2, face France in final (Lead) - Feb 24, 2012
- Anjum to lead Indian women's hockey team in Australia - Sep 29, 2011
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