Olympic qualifiers Indian men women in finals


New Delhi: The
Indian men's and women's teams on Friday night made it to the finals of
the 2012 London Olympics qualifiers, the former with a come-from-behind
4-2 win over Poland and the latter scraping past Italy 1-0 at the Major
Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

The women's team will take on South
Africa in Saturday's final while the men will square off with France

For the men's team, ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh (26th,
70th) was again the star of the night slamming in two from penalty corners
while Shivendra Singh (59th) and Vokkaliga Raghunath (65th) scored one
goal apiece. Sandeep is the leading goal scorer in the tournament with 11

Poland took an early lead through Tomasz Dutkiewicz in the
13th minute and Mirsloaw Juszczak helped them make it 2-2 in the 63rd
minute but the winning goal remained elusive.

With France
brightening its hopes for a place in final after a 1-1 draw with Canada
earlier in the day, India needed just a draw to book a final berth.

India, as promised by chief coach Michael Nobbs, were in no mood to play
for a draw. After the first half ended 1-1, India forced themselves in the
second-half with three goals and also assured France a place in Sunday's

India found it tough to breach the solid Polish defence
and had to rely on penalty corners for scoring. They earned as many as
nine penalty corners and converted three.

India pushed hard and
earned four penalty corners in a space of eight minutes and Sandeep
clinically converted the fourth to equalise for the hosts.

after the break, Shivendra came close to breaking the deadlock but his
shot from top of the D missed the goal by a whisker.

India built
the pressure on Poland from both the flanks and Sandeep had his drag-flick
saved in the 41st minute while two attempts went begging in the 57th
minute as Shivendra failed to trap the ball.

Just before the hour
mark, Shivendra made it 2-1 deflecting in a brilliant pass from Sarwanjit

The lead, however, was short-lived as Mirsloaw converted
the third penalty corner for the Poles to make it 2-2.

But India
came back strongly in the last six minutes through drag-flickers Raghunath
and Sandeep to dash Polish hopes.

For the women's team, Ritu Rani
struck the winner in the 55th minute off a rebound from Jaspreet Kaur's

India have to blame themselves for waiting too long
to break the deadlock. They wasted five penalty corners before getting
their act together in the sixth.

It was a crucial match for both
teams. India needed a win while a draw was enough for the Italians to take
them through. With the win India finished second behind World No.12 South
Africa (13) with 10 points.

India were lucky to win as the
Italians adopted a defensive approach and tightly marked the forwards
inside the circle.

India, World No.13, had to toil hard against
Italy, 19th in FIH rankings. Despite pressing hard from the start, they
were scrappy as the links failed to combine well with the forwards.

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