India beat South Africa 4-3 to keep quarterfinal hopes alive

TOKYO: Striker Vandana Katariya scored a historic hat-trick to keep alivethe Indian women’s hockey team’s quarterfinals hopes in the Olympics with a fighting 4-3 victory over lower-ranked South Africa in its must-win final group match here on Saturday.
Vandana (4th, 17th, 49th minutes) achieved a rare feat by becoming the first Indian woman hockey player to score a hat-trick in the Olympics.
Young Neha Goyal (32nd) was the other goal getter as the Rani Rampalled side registered its second consecutive win at the Games.
South Africa’s goals came from the sticks of Tarryn Glasby (15th), skipper Erin Hunter (30th) and Marizen Marais (39th).
With two wins from their final two pool matches, India have finished the group stages with six points from five games.
By virtue of this win, India have jumped to the fourth position in Pool A, but Ireland still have a chance to leapfrog the Indians.
India’s fate now depends on the outcome of the last Pool A match between Great Britain and Ireland.
The Indians will have to wait till the evening to know their fate. A Ireland loss or a draw will be enough for India to seal their place in the quarterfinals.
The top four teams from each pool will qualify for the knockout round.
“Today’s game was really tough, South Africa gave us a really good fight. They converted their chances in the circle.
Defensively, we can be a lot better,” skipper Rani said.
India’s chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said, “We gave too many goals away, and I think we can score more goals, that is the main thing for today. We did what we had to do, we had to win this match, and we did.
“Playing in these circumstances, you feel it, the humidity and I think it’s more than 35 degrees on the pitch, it does not make it easy,” he added.
Needing a win to stay alive in the competition, the Indians meant business and pressed hard on the South African defence from the start.
In doing so, India secured two penalty corners in the first two minutes of the match but drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur’s poor execution continued in the tournament.

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