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India eves enter Asia Cup semis

February 04, 2004 18:12 IST

Indian forwards finally found their rhythm as they pumped in eight goals against lowly Kazakhstan to enter the semifinals of the fifth Women's Asia Cup hockey tournament at New Delhi on Wednesday.

The 8-0 win helped India top Pool 'A' with a tally of 13 goals, which was one more than China.

The World Championship bronze medallists too entered the last-four stage after rounding off their league engagements with a 7-1 defeat of Malaysia.

Both India and China had conceded three goals each.

It was a pulsating affair at the Dhyan Chand National stadium as India and China rained in goals in their simultaneously held encounters on adjacent turfs.

India, the Commonwealth Games champions, struck in the very first minute when Surinder Kaur finished off a great individual run by Jyoti Kullu.

Surinder got into the act two minutes later to deflect a firm hit from Kullu.

The Indians, however, seemed to relax a bit after that until, in the 28th minute, skipper Surajlata Devi converted an indirect penalty corner for the third.

With China going on the rampage, the Indians went for the kill in the second half and Sanggai Chanu (36th, 60th) and Adline Kerketta (50th, 51st) found the net twice while Saba Anjum (46th) added to the tally.

In the semi final, the hosts will take on Pool 'B' runners-up and defending champions South Korea while world championship bronze medallist China will lock horns with Japan in the second semifinal on Friday.

In other matches of the day, Japan defeated Korea 4-3 and Singapore got the better of Sri Lanka 1-0 in Pool 'B'.

It was a much improved performance by the Indians, who were found wanting inside the striking circle in their earlier two matches.

The hosts, who had a dismal record of converting only two of the 21 penalty corners they received, managed to convert three of the 12 they earned today.

The Indian domination of the minnows was so profound that the Indian defence line was mostly seen in the opponents half with the Indian custodian managing to touch the ball only twice.

Had it not been for some inspired blocks from Kazakhstan goalkeeper Tussubzhanova, the scoreline would have been more heavier in favour of India.

Coach M K Kaushik expressed satisfaction over the Indians' performance but said that his wards needed to improve further their finishing in the knockout stage.

"We also need to improve our penalty corner conversion ratio," he added.

In the other Pool 'A' match, Malaysia looked like giving a scare to the Chinese as they conceded just one goal in the first half and then equalised five minutes after the break.

But it was China all the way from there as they scored six more goals to keep their chances of topping the Pool alive.

Chen Qui Qi (5th, 47th) and skipper Ma Yibo (63rd, 66th) scored a brace each while Li Aili (48th), Gao Lihua (49th) and Huang Xuejiao (51st) found the net once each.

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