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India foil late Poland rally

June 30, 2005 22:57 IST
Last Updated: June 30, 2005 23:48 IST

Defending champions India clung to a slender lead to post a 3-2 victory over Poland and advance to the second round of the Rabobank Men's Junior World Cup Hockey Tournament on a rain-swept evening in Rotterdam on Thursday.

The Indians revelled in the bitingly cold conditions to chalk up their second straight win in pool D while the Poles, who had lost 0-6 to the Netherlands on Wednesday, will now have to beat Egypt on Saturday to advance.

India's next game is on Saturday against the Dutch with Friday being a rest day.

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Goals by Hari Prasad (22nd minute), Birendra Lakra (43rd) and Sandeep Singh (56th) helped India to keep their nose in front in the face of a spirited challenge by Poland, for whom Piotr Rozek and Krol Szyplik converted penalty-corners in the 37th and 66th minutes respectively.

India were the better team on the day's showing as they displayed good combination in the midfield and attack, although at the finish they wasted a few chances. They wove an intricate web around the Polish team with a mix of short and long passes, while their individual skills earned them a round of applause.

Poland, on the other hand, were typically physical in their approach and kept the Indian defence on its toes with swift counter-attacks from the wings. But these moments were rare as for the better part of the game, the Indians held the upper hand.

India's first goal advertised the excellent combination of the forwards as centre-half Vivek Gupta found Vinay on top of the circle with a diagonal long ball.

Vinay, in turn, relayed to Tushar Khandekar, who then passed to a better positioned Hari Prasad to complete the move.

However, the Poles forced a penalty-corner immediately on resumption and Rozek let rip a drag-flick past goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza. The Indians were rattled by the equaliser but picked up momentum soon after.

Birendar deflected a long hit from Sandeep Singh to give India a 2-1 lead and a while later, Sandeep Singh converted the fourth penalty-corner with a well-directed drag-flick.

The Poles were far from finished as they hit back strongly to pull one back four minutes from the close through Szyplik's conversion, but India hung on to the lead till the final hooter.

Coach Harendra Singh was not too pleased with the Indian forwards.

"They missed far too many chances and we should have won by a bigger margin. Of course, we have to also appreciate the good performance of the Polish goalkeeper. However, at the end of the day, what matters most is that we picked up three more points and this will help us in the next phase of the tournament."

On the adjacent pitch, Argentina overcame Malaysia 1-0 for their second win in pool B that put them in the second round. The match-winner came in the very second minute from Pedro Ibarra's penalty-corner conversion.

Argentina had earlier beaten Germany 3-2 while Malaysia suffered their first defeat following their 4-1 success against South Africa.

Earlier, Australia recorded their second consecutive win in pool C with a 7-1 result against Belgium.

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Number of User Comments: 1

Sub: Congratulations to the defending champions !

We wish our boys well in the competition.

Posted by Dr. Cajetan Coelho


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