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India edge past SA
April 24, 2004 14:17 IST
India scored a hard-fought 4-3 victory over South Africa in the four-nation Men's Hockey Challenge but failed to make the final, which will be contested between Australia and Malaysia.
India, who drew 2-2 with Australia in their previous match, had suffered a shock 0-3 defeat to Malaysia in their opening match of the tournament and finished with four points behind Australia (7) and Malaysia (6) after the round-robin matches.
India meet South Africa again tomorrow at the Hambush Olympic Park to decide the third spot.
In today's other match, Australia cruised to an easy 5-1 win over Malaysia. The two teams will clash again in the final tomorrow.
Though South Africa took a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute through Greg Nicol, India restored parity within four minutes when Deepak Thakur found the target.
Star striker Gagan Ajit Singh then put India ahead in the 27th minute.
Changing ends, Nicol struck again for South Africa to level the scoreline at 2-2 in the 48th minute. But the Indians quickly changed gears and wrested the initiative back with goals from Arjun Halappa (58th) and Inderjit Kumar (62nd).
The Africans still managed to pull a goal back in the last minute through Reece Basson.
India's coach, Rajinder Singh, was happy with the victory and said his team will go all out tomorrow to win the third place.
"The team played well, but we could have made more goals. 4-3 is a narrow margin but we got only one short corner," he said.
"Today, some of the seasoned players, like Prabhjot Singh, played only for a short time due to injury. We will go all out to pose a major fight tomorrow to clinch the third position in this tournament."
In the first match of the day, Australia proved too good for Malaysia. After opening the scoring through Adam Commens in the fourth minute, they totally outplayed their opponents. Commens scored again in the 27th minute after Andrew Smith had made it 2-0 from a penalty-corner in the 10th minute. Jaime Dwyer (36th minute) and Michael Boyce (38th) accounted for Australia's other goals.
For Malaysia, Mohd Rodhanizam Mat Radzi reduced the margin with a field goal in the 46th minute.