Gold Coast [Australia], April 10 (ANI): The Indian women's hockey team qualified for the semi-finals of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games as they defeated South Africa by 1-0 in their last Pool A match on Tuesday.
Indian skipper Rani Rampal scored the only goal of the match in the 47th minute.
India finished second in Pool A with nine points from four matches as England finished top with a better goal difference.
The first quarter started with both teams attacking each other by creating opportunities, but neither was able to make the most of their chances. It was South Africa's Jade Mayne who had a great chance to give her team the lead in the 10th minute when she found herself in space in front of India's goal, but a weak shot saw Indian goalkeeper Savita make a comfortable save.
Two minutes later, India's Vandana Katariya made a darting run inside the striking circle towards the base-line, and slid the ball onto a South African foot to win her team a penalty corner. But Rani's shot from the resulting drag-flick was parried by South African goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande, and the rebound was struck over the cross-bar by Katariya.
In the 13th minute, the South Africans were also awarded a penalty corner but Savita made a save.
The second period saw a similar story as both the teams looked to find a break-through. However, it was India who had the better chances as Katariya was involved yet again in attack when she made a quick run on the left flank, and played a one-two with Namita Toppo, only to see her strike being saved by Mbande.
India were constantly putting pressure on their opponents and it was Lalremsiami's turn to shoot as she stole possession and ran towards the goal but her shot was hit over the cross-bar. South Africa tried to make opportunities but could not strike before the half-time whistle as the game remained goal-less.
The third quarter was dominated by the Indian team as they defended well inside the first few minutes after the restart. World No. 14 South Africa were awarded three consecutive penalty corners in the opening two minutes but India's defence and made sure that they could not score.
Savita made a great reflex save in the 32nd minute from Dirkie Chamberlain's shot to deny South Africa the lead. In the 39th minute, it was India who were awarded a penalty corner but Gurjit Kaur's shot thumped into the crossbar.
In the fourth quarter, it was India who started well and were rewarded for keeping their composure as Rani scored in the 47th minute to give her team an important lead. It was Navneet Kaur on the left flank who started the attack and passed the ball in-field to Katariya, who in turn played the ball forward towards the centre of the striking circle where skipper Rani found enough space to turn and shoot, leaving the South African goalkeeper clueless.
The South Africans tried to make a comeback into the match and were trying to find openings into the Indian circle, but a strong defensive structure and approach saw India retain their lead, and qualify for the semi-finals.
India will play their semi-final on April 12. (ANI)