Rani on target as Indian eves reach semifinal

Rani on target as Indian eves reach semifinal

Skipper Rani Rampal's strike in the fourth quarter steered India to the semifinals of the women's hockey event at the 21st Commonwealth Games as they beat South Africa 1-0, here on Tuesday.

India only required a draw to progress to the last-four stage as they already had six points from three matches before they faced South Africa. India qualified as the second- placed team from Pool A behind England, who topped by virtue of better goal difference.

The match-winner came in the fourth quarter after Navneet Kaur initiated an attack from the wide left with a forward pass for Vandana Katariya. Rani trapped Vandana's assist and turned to take a crack, leaving the South African custodian clueless.

The South Africans tried to make a comeback but a strong defence saw India sustain their lead till the final hooter.

"As a captain, I tell my team to believe in themselves and keep encouraging my team. In 2002, we won gold in women's hockey and this year, I want to bring the gold back to my country," Rani said after the match.

On their potential face-off with Australia in the semifinals on Thursday, Rani said: "It's exciting to play against the host nation. The whole crowd will be cheering for them. I need to thank our supporters in the last three games and we need to think positive and play strong."

The first quarter started with both teams 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 front of India's goal but a weak shot saw Indian goalkeeper Savita effect a comfortable save.


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