An injury-struck India were beaten 1-2 by defending champions China in their last league match in the Asian Games women's hockey competitions on Monday and would now play Japan on November 24 in the bronze medal play-off at the Aoti Hockey Field in Guangzhou.
China, who ended the league stages atop the table with 12 points, would take on South Korea in the final but both the teams have qualified for the 2012 London Olympics irrespective of who wins the gold.
In an inconsequential final round-robin tie in the seven-team tournament, India suffered a big set-back when defender Vineeta Toppo, who had twisted her knee in the very first minute of the team's lung-opener against Malaysia in November 13, limped off the ground after 10 minutes.
Toppo, who was not played at all after the injury prior to Monday, has been ruled out of the tournament along with another player - midfielder Rosalying Rolte, who has not recovered from the ankle injury sustained during the match against Thailand on November 19, according to coach Sandeep Somesh.
With only 16 players in the party, which includes two goalkeepers, the Indian team management has been left with the hard choice of fielding only twelve in other positions and cannot, therefore, take full advantage of the rolling substitution in the third-place match against Japan against whom they lost 0-3 in the round-robin stages.
To make matters worse, Khalid Modi, officially the team's manager and who is also assisting Somesh, is departing for India on Tuesday after news came that his father has been admitted to a hospital in his home town Bangalore.
In Monday's match, China - 2002 Busan gold medallist and title holders - took it easy knowing that they had already qualified for the final as even an Indian win today would have kept the latter at 12 points, one less than the hosts going into the match.
Against the Surinder Kaur-led Indian side, China went into attack from the start and drew first blood late in the opening half when Zhishuang Wang deflected the ball into the rival goal in then 27th minute.
Three minutes later Xu Xiaoxu increased the lead with another field strike to go into the breather with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
The Indian forays failed to produce a goal till the dying moments of the match when captain Surinder Kaur converted a penalty stroke just five minutes from the hooter.
But that was all the eves could manage in the match as they hardly got any chance to equalise in the last five minutes of the encounter.
India ended the league proceedings with three wins -- over Malaysia, Thailand and Kazakhstan -- and as many defeats -- against former champions Korea, current champions China and last edition's silver medallist Japan.