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India stay afloat with rousing win

india Updated: Apr 09, 2009 00:29 IST

AFP
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Former champions India found their form to overcome Malaysia 3-0 on Wednesday to keep their hopes of a final berth alive in the 18th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

The Indians suffered a shock 2-2 draw with minnows Egypt on Sunday but hit their stride against the home side in their second match. The defeat was the first for the Malaysians after they beat Pakistan 3-2 and Egypt 4-1.

Both teams remain in the hunt for a final berth, along with New Zealand. The Indians, ranked 10th in the world, took a 2-0 lead in the first half with both goals coming from penalty corners.

In the 19th minute, Arjun Halappa scored with a powerful shot after receiving the ball from Sandeep Singh and in the 31st minute, Sandeep was on target. The second half saw a more even battle, with both sides having good scoring chances that were thwarted by fine goalkeeping. Gurvinder Singh Chandi scored in the 62nd minute to seal India’s victory. India, with four points, have two more matches to play as they bid to book their place in next Sunday’s final while the Malaysians still lead the standings with six points and will play New Zealand on Saturday, where they will need three points to make the final.

Earlier, Egypt produced another stunning performance to hold New Zealand to a 1-1 draw. The 20th-ranked Africans defied the odds to take the fight to the tournament favourites. Only a lapse in concentration allowed the Kiwis to score an equaliser. Egypt coach Jerzy Wybieralski said his team went flat out and the players were very tired after the match. “It is another good performance and I am proud of the players for their dedicated play,” he said. The first half was evenly contested with both sides having few goal-scoring chances but seven minutes into the second half the Egyptians took the lead.

The Kiwis, ranked seventh in the world, were reduced to depending on counter-attacks and in the 52nd minute one of their raids paid off.

New Zealand coach Shane McLeod said his side failed to keep their shape in the game and allowed their opponents too much room. “To be fair the Egyptians played very well and took their chances well. We did try out some different playing formations and obviously it did not show the desired result,” he said.