Olympic qualifying tournament in hockey
INDIA struck twice in the last five minutes to post a thrilling 4-2 victory over gutsy Poland and move into the men’s final of the Olympic qualifying tournament in New Delhi on Friday (February 24).
The hosts will now clash with France, who drew 1-1 with Canada, with the winners of that match on Sunday (February 26) qualifying for the London Olympics.
India topped the six-team group with 15 points from five matches, followed by France (10), Poland (nine), Canada (seven), Italy (three) and Singapore (nil).
South Africa, who topped the six-team group with 13 points, will meet India (10 points) in the women’s final on Saturday, with the winners making it to the Olympics.
India rode on Ritu Rani’s 55th-minute goal to beat Italy 1-0, South Africa overcame a 1-0 deficit to down Canada 4-1 and Ukraine defeated Poland 1-0 in the women's section.
Poland, needing only a draw to enter the men’s final, surprised India when they made it 2-2 in the 63rd minute before conceding two goals in the closing five minutes.
They had also gained the lead when Tomasz Dutkiewicz scored off a penalty-corner in the 10th minute, but India struck back through Sandeep Singh and Shivendra Singh.
They, however, did not give up and equalised through Miroslaw Juszczak.
India maintained their unbeaten record in the league when V R Raghunath and Sandeep found the target in the last five minutes.
“Their defence was very good and tight,” said India coach Michael Nobbs.
“Our performance was good today. We will never play for a draw and go all-out for a win. I expect it to be a good final against France.”
France looked a better team after they scored the equaliser in the 56th minute through Fabien Magner but failed to cash in on the chances that came their way in the closing stages.
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