Monday, November 28, 2011

India thrash South Africa – Champions Challenge Update

Team Anna is no longer the same force it was a few fortnights ago – is it their own downfall or craftily managed by some politicians can never be understood – now there are talks of a Lok Pal common for the Centre and States – we wait anxiously to see whether it would be yet another tale of broken promises !    The market has been mayhem and the small time investor would be heart broken – but there is always hope of a better day as indices are expected to perk up this week.  

At Wankhede, it was an exciting draw – normally draw and excitement do not go together.  It is common to hear that other sports do not get the recognition that they deserve – Cricket is closely followed – whether it be Test / ODI or T20 or IPL or even Ranji !! – how many of us are following or even know of the hockey tournament being held at Johannesberg presently.  

The organizing body in Dec 2010  announced that 8 teams – Argentina, Belgium, Canada, India, Japan, Malaysia, Poland and host South Africa would participate in the event.   There are two pools and India is in Pool A alongside Belgium, South Africa and Poland.   In our first match, we were held to a draw by Belgium.

It is the  2011 Men's Hockey Champions Challenge  -  the sixth tournament of the Hockey Champions Challenge for men being held  from November 26 to December 4, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  The Hockey Champions Challenge is an international field hockey tournament, played every two years. It was introduced in 2001 by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in order to broaden hockey's competitive base at world level. India won the inaugural tourney held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2001.

It was perhaps the same old story of not clinching the match letting it go in the dying seconds.  India conceded a goal in the penultimate minute on a penalty corner to allow Belgium to secure a 3-3 draw in their opening outing at the Champions Challenge hockey tournament in South Africa on 26/11/11.  Playing well,  India sprung to life with three second-half goals in the space of 12 minutes, but twice allowed the Belgians to draw level after falling behind. India's goals came from Rupinder Pal Singh (45th minute), Chingelnsana Singh (48th) and Vokkaliga Raghunath (57th) as they had a good chance to start with a victory, until a 69th-minute penalty corner rebound by Xavier Rekinger helped Belgium to a share of the points.  Belgium, among the few teams in this competition who have already secured their passage to the London Olympics, are one of the strongest sides.

Yesterday was a good day for Indians and they thrashed the host South Africa 7/4.  At Johannesburg, drag-flick specialist Sandeep Singh and striker S V Sunil scored two goals each as India dished out a fast-paced and entertaining hockey to beat South Africa 7-4.  Playing a fine, brisk game to match their robust rivals, India capitalised on every scoring opportunity to open a big margin after being levelled at 4-4 until the 55th minute in the Pool A league match.  Sandeep converted two penalty corners in the 14th and 35th minutes, while Saravanjit Singh (29th) and Tushar Khandekar (41st) scored one apiece.

With this victory, India now has  four points from two matches, the same as Belgium, who yesterday drew 3-3 with India and beat Poland 7-3

With regards
S. Sampathkumar.

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