After spilling eight penalty corners, South Central Railway latched onto their ninth, in the 68th minute, to guarantee their semifinal berth with a 1-0 victory over ICF in the 1st Syed Ahmed Memorial all India hockey tournament at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium on Thursday. That the match was to be determined through a set-piece was invariable as both sides were not effective in offense.
Not a single glow of ingenuity was on evidence as both sides were content in just trotting to each other’s half with no perceptible goal-scoring intent. Relatively fluid, SCR rendered the first, and the only, spectacular pass sequence. India discard Manjeet Kullu cleverly laid off the ball to MG Poonacha. Such was the precision, and Kullu’s vision, that Poonacha was rather surprised at the delivery that he didn’t prompt the required follow-up. That compounded their woes, as they squandered three penalty corners in the opening half.
Likewise, ICF frittered away a penalty corner early in the latter half, one that could have given them ascendancy in the match. Ashok Kumar’s placement couldn’t be argued, but lacked power to beat the flinging goalkeeper Pfokrelo. A minute later they laid to waste another penalty corner. Both teams felt the paucity of quality drag-flicker, and inexplicably they didn’t utilize their best-available resources, like SC Railway’s reticence to use Innocent Kullu.
SCR exemplified their readiness to pursue unconventional methods in attempting short corners, with the invariably futile output. Ironically, their straightforward attempts tested ICF goalkeeper Udaya Kumar. Fortunately, common-sense prevailed when the umpire awarded them a short-corner in the 68th minute. Gagandeep’s shot took the inside post before trickling into the cage, preventing the match from going into shootout.In the other quarterfinal, Indian Bank beat Western Railway 4-1 in the tiebreaker after both sides were locked 2-2 at regulation time.
Results: SC Railway 1 (Gagandeep Singh 68) bt ICF 0; Indian Bank 6 (2) (V Raja 16, Deepak 21; Mariya Stalin, Philip Martin, V Raja, Santosh Kumar scored in tiebreaker) bt Western Railway 3 (2) (Suresh Sana 5, Osaf Ur Rahaman 48; Vinod Singh netted in tiebreaker).