FIH Champions Challenge 1 2011
Johannesburg, South Africa - November 26 - 4, 2011


India adds spice to CC1 quarter-final round

December 1, 2011
Raghunath's last minute goal secures spot in semi-finals

After a slow start Belgium cruised in to the semi-finals scoring three second-half goals to complete a comfortable win. The European side took control early on but only managed to breach Canada’s defence in the 23rd minute when Florent van Aubel deftly deflected the ball past David Carter in goal at a penalty corner.

Despite being ranked one place above Belgium at 11th in the world rankings, Canada were under pressure for most of the play after the break as Belgium dominated the exchanges. They added three more goals to their account with Canada disappointed to have a “goal” disallowed after mounting a late charge. Pushing forward they forced two penalty corners in last minute but failed to reduce the deficit.

Colin Batch, the Belgium coach, said he was pleased to come away with a 4-0 victory adding: “Canada are always hard to break down and you can never take anything for granted. I think the most important thing was that the team experienced playing in a knock-out phase of a tournament.”

If Argentina thought they were going to have it all their own way against Poland who have struggled throughout the tournament, they were mistaken. They made sure of securing their place in the last four but it was the Poles grabbed an early lead surprising their opponents who quickly regained the initiative to take a 3-1 lead at the break.

The highlights were some thrilling goals by Argentina who carved out openings with some skilful attacking moves much to the delight of the crowd. Two more goals followed to complete the scoreline but it belied a sustained period in the second-half when Poland camped in Argentina’s half and were unlucky not to be rewarded after creating numerous chances.

Pablo Lombi, the Argentina coach, was far from happy after the contest saying his side were poor in the attacking third of the pitch. “I don’t know why the players were so slow and we can definitely play better than that – they might have found it difficult to create some dynamism once they were leading 3-1.” he said. “But we will definitely have to improve when we meet Belgium in the semi-final.”

 INDIA 5 MALAYSIA 4 (golden goal)

Talk about nerve-wracking! V.R. Raghunath powered home a penalty corner golden goal at the end of extra time to send a jubilant India team in to the semi-finals. In a pulsating contest Malaysia fought back doggedly to come from 2-0 down to take a 4-2 lead, before being reeled back as India scored twice in the in the last six minutes to send the game to extra-time.

Few games will be played closer to the nerve endings and with an array of breathtaking skills on show the scoreline was always in doubt until the final whistle. Played in persistent rain, there was no shortage of action with three India players being shown first-half yellow cards and two players from Malaysia given temporary suspensions after the turnaround.

Extra-time brought out the best in both sides which showed unwavering commitment as they pushed hard for the winner. With play swinging from end-to-end and chances created and spurned, the dreaded shoot-out loomed. Nine seconds from time India earned a penalty corner and Raghunath stepped up to crush Malaysia’s hopes of reaching the last four.


South Africa withstood a spirited late fight back by Japan to qualify for the semi-finals and keep alive their dreams of reaching the final but they needed to dig deep after Japan pulled two goals back after being 3-0 down.

Apparently cruising thanks to a superb hat-trick of penalty corner goals by Justin Reid-Ross – the first treble in the tournament - the hosts survived some anxious moments as Japan hit back with their helter-skelter style to unsettle the South Africa defence, scoring twice in a four minute spell midway through the second half.

South African midfielder Wade Paton said the side had lost control but had  managed to regain their composure with some excellent defending. “We didn’t play well in that period” he said, “but we’re delighted to be through.”

 The only lower-ranked team to triumph in the quarter-finals, the result sets up a re-match of their group game which India won 7-4.


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