Saturday, August 11, 2012

South Africa hand wooden spoon to India

(11th-12th) South Africa vs. India: 3-2 (half-time: 2-1)
South Africa went ahead in the 8th minute of play and never relinquished the lead, pushing back India into last place of the competition.
South Africa opened the scoring early by Andrew Cronje, finding the ball in a wild goalmouth scramble in front of PR Sreejesh in goal for India today, before Sandeep Singh equalized on penalty-corner, only his second goal of the tournament. His weak performance on the set-play, India’s most potent weapon in recent past, has certainly contributed to the Indian poor results in this competition.
Play was balanced and lively for the remainder of the period, with both teams launching spectacular runs with the ball. Sardar Singh gave glimpses of his immense class and Danish Mujtaba twice shot from close range, but Erasmus Pieterse was up to the task in the South African goal. It was finally Timothy Drummond who managed to break the deadlock, shovelling the ball under the Indian keeper in the final minute of the period to give South Africa a one-goal lead, and momentum, going into the halftime break.
Play resumed as animated in second period. Indian keeper PR Sreejesh had to clean-up a few times behind his permeable defense while Erasmus Pieterse was having a phenomenal match for South Africa, saving huge shots from SV Sunil and Dharamvir Singh. The match switched to overdrive in the final minutes, with goals from Lloyd Norris-Jones, receiving a gem ball from Wade Paton and slamming it in goal, before a goal by Dharamvir Singh reduced the gap to one goal.
India had a late desperate surge, but it was too little and certainly too late and they finished this competition with the wooden spoon, a far cry from their pre-Games expectation, when Captain Bharat Chetri was optimistically talking about a semi-final berth. South Africa finished 11th, one spot higher than their entry ranking. They will take away some strong performances against Great Britain (2-2), Spain (2-3) and Pakistan (4-5).
(Yan Huckendubler)