India beat South Africa 2-0 in FIH Hockey Women’s National Cup, play Ireland in semis

Valencia, Dec 14 (PTI) Already through to the semifinals, India beat South Africa 2-0 to notch up their third win on the trot and top the pool in the FIH Hockey Women’s Nations Cup here on Wednesday.

Deep Ekka Grace (14th minute) and Gurjit Kaur (59th) scored for India against the South Africans to end the pool B league engagement with an all-win record.

World number eight India topped the pool with nine points. They had beaten Chile (3-1) and Asian Games nemesis Japan (2-1) in their earlier matches.

India will play against Ireland in the semifinal.

In pool A, hosts Spain led the points table after two wins and a draw.

The Indian women got off to an attacking start against South Africa. In the first quarter, they kept the ball firmly in possession and frustrated the opponents with sublime passing and ball rotation.

It was Deep Grace Ekka who slapped the ball inside the South African goal to beat keeper Anelle van Deventer after youngster Salima Tete earned a penalty corner with an excellent run near the baseline on the left side of the goal.

India continued the positive momentum in the following quarter as well as they made several entries inside the South African circle.

Anelle van Deventer had to make three strong saves at the start of the second quarter to keep India away from stretching their lead in the match.

The Indian women also earned a PC but they could not score the second goal as Gurjit Kaur hit the ball outside the post.

The third quarter too began with India dominating ball possession and looking for cracks in the South African defence. Lalremsiami soon earned a penalty stroke for India.

However, experienced campaigner Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam couldn’t manage to score the second goal of the match as Anelle van Deventer dived down her left to make an excellent save.

Navneet Kaur also failed to put the ball inside the goal in the last minutes of the third quarter.

The first chance of scoring a goal in the fourth quarter came early to India’s Sonika as she received the ball inside the circle on the left side of the post. However, she wasted the chance.

India won back-to-back penalty corners in the last few minutes and Gurjit Kaur did no mistake in putting the ball inside the net to hand her team to a comfortable victory.

The eight-team tournament is important for India as it brings in a system of promotion-relegation, where the champions will be promoted to the 2023-24 FIH Hockey Women’s Pro League, a key event ahead of next year’s Asian Games and 2024 Paris Olympics.

Source: PTI News


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