Gold Coast, April 10 (IANS) The Indian women’s hockey team defeated South Africa 1-0 in its final Pool A game on Tuesday to enter the semi-finals of the event at the 21st Commonwealth Games (CWG) here.
Captain Rani Rampal’s 47th-minute field goal proved to be the difference during the match as India remained second in the Pool A with nine points — same as top-placed England but behind on goal difference.
Third-placed South Africa have four points with a match left. They will meet fourth-placed Wales, who have three points.
India, who came into the match on the back of consecutive wins over England and Malaysia, began with high confidence. But the South Africans matched them with pace and precision.
Though the overall technical quality was absent from both the teams as they engaged in a scrappy encounter.
India got couple of penalty corners but Gurjit Kaur and Rampal couldn’t make them count in the first two quarters.
At the beginning of the third quarter, South Africa began to ask questions but the Indian defence reacted strongly.
India employed a strategy of waiting for the South African defence to push up and then hit them on the counter.
India came close to breaking the deadlock when drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur hit the cross-bar in the 38th minute.
It was a warning for a desperate South Africa, who pushed hard. Moments later. Navjot Kaur slid wide of the left post following a cross from Monika.
Nearly nine minutes later, India got the 1-0 lead. Navneet Kaur led the counter-attack, before passing it onto the Vandana Katariya who was positioned at the top of the circle. Vandana passed the ball to Rampal, who made a beautiful turn after receiving the ball, holding off goalkeeper and a defender, to roll the ball in for the 1-0 lead.
After the goal, India strengthened its defensive structure to seal a crucial win.