December 13, 2001

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Menezes excels; India meet
South Africa in final

Spurred by a brilliant performance by goalkeeper Jude Menezes, India kept a rampaging Argentina at bay to score 2-1 win in their last league match of the Champions Challenge hockey tournament and earn a place in the final.

The eight-time Olympic champions will meet South Africa, who got the better of Malaysia 1-0 in the last match of the day.

Mike Cullen broke Malaysian hearts, scoring the only goal to take South Africa to the final.

Jude Menezes India and South Africa finished with 10 points but the Indians took the top spot in the league on a better goal difference.

In the first match of the day, Japan routed Belgium 6-2 to register their second victory in the six-team tournament.

Argentina took the lead in the 15th minute through Tomas Mac Cormik who scored from a penalty-corner. India also equalised from a penalty-corner conversion by Jugraj Singh in the 27th minute.

In the 33rd minute, India scored what turned out to be the match-winner when Gagan Ajit Singh found the mark with a brilliant field goal.

Goalkeeper Menezes was the hero of the victory. He brought off seven fine saves from the Argentine frontline which launched a desperate bid for the equaliser in the second half.

India won three matches, drew one and lost one for a total of ten points.

Gagan Ajit Singh India coach Cedric D'Souza said after the match: "This game opened my eyes so much to see that we could defend under pressure. Coming from behind to win is a good feeling. Overall, I'm quite happy with our performance in the entire tournament."

ARGENTINA: Pablo Moreira, Juan Pablo Hourquebie, Maximiliano Caldas, Ezequiel Paulon, Mario Almada, Tomas Mac Cormik, Santiago Capurro, Jorge Lombi, Fernando Zylberberg, German Orozco, Fernando Oscaris (Leonardo Deambrosi, Matias Vila)

INDIA: Jude Menezes, Lazarus Barla, Thirumal Valavan, Sukhbir Singh Gill, Dhanraj Pillay, Baljit Singh Dhillon, Jugraj Singh, Daljit Singh Dhillon, Kanwalpreet Singh, Deepak Thakur, Bipin Fernandez (Vikram Pillay, Prabhjot Singh, Arjun Halappa, Gagan Ajit Singh)

UMPIRES: Steve Graham (WAL), Ravinderpaul Singh (MAS)

South Africa hold out for final berth

Coming into the match, South Africa needed three points while the home team would have gone through with just a draw.

But for Malaysia, it was a point too far. They laid seige on the South African D and came close on numerous occasions, at times by mere inches.

Sadly for the thousands of roaring home fans in the stadium, the home boys could not find the final touch despite having 10 shots at goal and six penalty-corner attempts. Of these, five were awarded in the second half.

South Africa, too had their fair share of short corners - seven in all, but just one in the second period. The difference was that they made one of theirs count.

In their only penalty-corner of the second half, the Africans executed a set piece move that released Cullen in the D and he made no mistake from two metres.

The goal was conceded by Malaysia when they were a man down, Chua Boon Huat having been sent off for dissent.

Malaysia take on Argentina in the battle for third place.

South African coach Rob Pullen said after the match: "A week ago, I would have been quite happy to play for third place. But we played our best game today."

Malaysian coach Paul Lissek said: "We had our chances, but the killer or final touch was not there. The boys showed a lot of spirit, but they may have been too excited."

MALAYSIA: Roslan Jamaluddin, Maninderjit Singh, Chua Boon Huat, S. Kuhan, Nor Azlan Bakar, Mohd Madzli Ikmar, Tajol Rosli Mohamed, Mohd Rodhanizam Radzi, K. Keevan Raj, Mirnawan Nawawi, Shaiful Azli Rahman (K. Gobinathan, Chairil Anwar Aziz, K. Logan Raj, S. Shankar)

SOUTH AFRICA: Chris Hibbert, Warren Bond, Craig Jackson, Craig Fulton, Bruce Jacobs, Gareth Murray, Mike Cullen, Ken Forbes, Kevin Chree, Brenton Key, Darryn Gallagher (Clyde Abrahams, Sean Wilson, Denzil Dolley, Marvin Bam, Neil Davids)

UMPIRES: Jason McCracken (NZ), Sumesh Putra (CAN)

Champions Challenge - the complete coverage

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