The Indian men’s hockey team advanced to the final of the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games with a 3-2 win over South Africa in the semi-finals on Saturday. Abhishek (20′), Mandeep Singh (28′), and Jugraj Singh (58) scored for India as Ryan Julius (33′) and Mustafa Qasim (59′) scored for South Africa. with victory, India Made it to the finals and will fight for the gold medal on Monday.
The match began with India being pushed deep into South Africa’s half as Lalit Kumar Upadhyay entered the circle to trouble the opposition’s defence. A few seconds later, captain Manpreet Singh gave a ball to Abhishek inside the circle, but the South African defense saved it. Proteas goalkeeper Govan Jones made two consecutive saves to deny India after Akashdeep Singh came into the circle and created a great opportunity. Jones denied Harmanpreet Singh after hitting a powerful dragflick on the target from a penalty corner and the first quarter ended with neither team scoring a goal.
India continued to score dangerous runs inside the striking circle, especially on the left flank. Goalkeeper Krishna B Pathak made a significant save after South Africa scored consecutive penalty corners. Abhishek finally broke the ties with a surprise reverse hit into the net from the edge of the circle as India took a 1-0 lead. Minutes later, Akashdeep Singh got a piercing pass in the circle from Vivek Sagar Prasad. But his shot on the target was once again saved by Govan Jones. A late counter-attack caused Mandeep Singh to hit the ball into the nets in front of the South African goalkeeper as India entered halftime with a 2-0 lead.
India started the second half from a penalty corner and immediately put pressure on the South African defence. But Varun Kumar’s shot was cleared by the opposition. Ryan Julius put South Africa on the board as he scored from a penalty corner to reduce the gap to 1-2. Minutes later, Abhishek’s shot towards the far post was once again saved by Govan Jones. The South African goalkeeper saved once again when Jarmanpreet Singh hit the target from a penalty corner.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, India started showing readiness to extend their lead as Jarmanpreet Singh created a dangerous opportunity from the left flank but the ball went just wide. With Gurjant Singh scoring runs inside the circle, India kept South Africa’s defense on its toes as the clock was ticking. Jugraj Singh scored another goal for India in a late penalty corner, but Mustafa Qasim also added a goal for South Africa with a minute left on the clock. India managed to maintain their composure in the last few seconds and registered a 3-2 win to reach the final.