AAG: Malaysia make India work |
October 30, 2003
> Page Views 3541
From R Satya
Pakistan ? 2 Korea ? 0
India ? 6 (1) Malaysia ? 4 (1)
South Africa ? 4 Nigeria ? 0
Egypt ? 1 Ghana ? 0
The hush at the hockey arena after two sessions of extra-time was deafening. The goodly crowd knew it is a lottery thereafter. They also knew that Devesh Chauhan was under the bar.
But it was all over for the Malaysians when the plucky Chauhan saved Chua Boon Huat's attempt, diving to the right with great anticipation. Riding on that piece of brilliance by the goal-keeper, India sneaked into the final of the men's hockey competition of the inaugural Afro-Asian Games here.
Celebrations in the stands began soon after Kanwalpreet Singh converted his chance, India's last, with a minimum of fuss. The hosts, who dominated the exchanges and muffed up chances aplenty, eventually overcame the Malaysians on penalties 6-4 after being level 1-1 in regulation time. The two sessions of extra-time too ended in a stalemate. In the gold medal clash on Friday, India take on Pakistan, who had taken a much easier route to the final. The green shirts overcame Asian Games gold medallists Korea 2-0 earlier in the first semifinal.
Huat turned from hero to villain after being denied by Chauhan. It was he who had got the Malaysians right back into the match after India had gone ahead through Arjun Halappa in the 20th minute. Huat scored seven minutes later to draw parity off a penalty corner, and the Malaysians kept it that way till the penalties. But Huat failed to get past Chauhan.
India won the match all right, but the forwards were guilty of missing a handful of chances early in the first session and in the latter half of the second session. The Malaysians played confidently, and to a plan. They even threatened to bring down the Indian citadel on quick counters that caught the defence napping. On one such occasion they even scored through Selvaraja 13 minutes into the second session, but the goal was disallowed by Egyptian umpire Ahmed E Youseff for dangerous play.
Once Malaysia got the equaliser, they were content on playing for time, packing the defence and trying to choke the Indian forwards. The message was loud and clear in the second session: keep the Indians at bay and floor them on the counters, or better still, battle it out on penalties.
They succeeded partly, forcing the penalties but failed to come out on top. In the penalties, Arjun Halappa, Bimal Lakra, Gagan Ajit Singh, Prabhjot Singh and Kanwalpreet Singh scored for India. For the Malaysians, Keevan Raj, S Kuhan, who brought off a splendid save on the goalline off Deepak Thakur in the dying minutes in regulation time, and Md Amin Rahim were successful. Huat failed in his attempt.
Earlier Pakistan, in a match that the Koreans had the slight edge, made the most of the chances that came their way to score a 2-0 win. Ali Ghazanfar, the penalty corner specialist in Sohail Abbas' absence, scored the first in the 34th minute. Pakistan added an insurance goal in the 60th minute through Shakeel Abassi.
In other matches, Egypt edged out Ghana 1-0, South Africa emerged 4-0 victors over Nigeria.
Your opinion counts.
Rate this article or enter your comments below.