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Cyclone Titli triggers flood-like situation in Odisha

Heavy rains triggered by the severe cyclonic storm Titli have caused flood-like situations in several districts of Odisha on Friday.
 
Cyclone Titli makes landfall in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh
Heavy rains triggered by the severe cyclonic storm Titli have caused flood-like situations in several districts of Odisha on Friday.
 
The situation remains vulnerable, especially in Ganjam, Rayagada and Gajapati districts where the remote areas have been cut off due to the incessant rains after Titli hit the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh coast on Thursday morning.
 
During a review meeting via video conferencing, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday directed the three district collectors to closely monitor the situation and shift the people living in vulnerable areas to safer places.
 
He directed them to focus on early restoration of power supply and emergency services.
 
The Chief Minister has also asked the collectors to submit crop and house damage assessment reports within seven days.
 
Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi said two Indian Navy choppers from Vishakapatnam will be pressed into action in Ganjam district to expedite the relief and rescue operations.
 
"The two choppers are on their way to Ganjam. They will carry out relief and rescue operations in Aska and Puroshotam areas," said Padhi.
 
He said 14 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and 12 Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) have been deployed in various districts.
 
Road and electricity restoration works were also in full swing in the affected districts.
 
Reacting to casualty reports, the Chief Secretary said: "We have seen media reports of the deaths of two or three persons in these districts. We are verifying it."
 
The water is flowing above danger level in Vansadhara, Rusikulya and Jalaka rivers. 
 
A total of 16 blocks have received about 200-300 mm rainfall in the last 24 hours while 60 blocks received 100-200 mm rainfall in the state. 
 
Some blocks received more than 300 mm of rainfall.
 
IANS

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Cyclone Bulbul moves towards Bengal, causes heavy rains in coastal Odisha

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With Cyclone Bulbul progressing towards West Bengal coast, it has triggered heavy rainfall coupled with strong winds in the coastal districts of Odisha on Saturday.
 
Hundreds of trees were found uprooted in several places in the coastal districts while the NDRF, ODRAF, police and fire personnel have been engaged in clearing road blockades by removing the uprooted trees lying on the roads.
 
Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Pradeep Jena said information had been received about the uprooting of trees in Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur and Bhadrak districts.
 
He, however, said that they had not received reports about any loss of life so far.
 
The SRC said that Dhamra in Bhadrak district recorded a wind speed of 110 kmph.
 
The Kendrapara district administration has evacuated 1070 people to several shelters. More than 1,500 persons were evacuated to safety in Balasore and Jagatsingpur districts.
 
In the last 24 hours, Paradip received the highest rainfall of 159 mm, followed by Chandbali with 143 mm and Balasore 32 mm of rainfall.
 
Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy reviewed the situation with Bhubaneswar meteorological centre director H. R. Biswas on Saturday morning.
 
"We are keeping a close watch on the situation," said Tripathy.
 
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the very severe cyclonic storm Bulbul is currently lying 98 km east-northeast of Paradip and 135 km south-southwest of Balasore in Odisha.
 
The system, moving at a speed of 15 kmph, is likely to weaken gradually and move northeastwards towards West Bengal and Bangladesh, it said.
 
The IMD said gale wind speed 70-80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph is prevailing along and off Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Bhadrak and Balasore districts of Odisha and East Medinipur, south and north 24 Parganas districts of West Bengal.
 
It has predicted that gale wind speed 70-80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph is likely to continue for next 3 hours along and off Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, and for next 6 hours along and off Bhadrak and Balasore districts of Odisha.
 
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India men seal Olympics berth with 7-1 drubbing of Russia

The Indian men's hockey team on Saturday qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a 7-1 drubbing of 22nd-ranked Russia in the second leg of their Olympic qualifiers here.
 
World No. 5 India came into the match with a 4-2 lead in the first leg, which meant that the aggregate score at the end of the match was 11-3 in their favour.
 
The hosts were given an early scare with Russia scoring within the first 25 seconds of the match. Alexey Sobolevskiy scored after Russia charged at an unprepared Indian defence.
 
It looked like the match might follow a similar script to that of the women's qualifier earlier in the night, in which India squandered a 5-1 first leg lead and had to depend on skipper Rani Rampal's late strike to pull off a 6-5 aggregate win over a resurgent USA to seal their place in the Olympics.
 
But the Indian men maintained their composure and slowly but surely started asserting themselves against their opponents, who were the lowest-ranked team in the draw for the Olympic qualifiers.
 
However, it was a jittery first quarter for the hosts. They dominated possession but couldn't get too many shots at goal. They had one penalty corner in the first quarter which came to nothing. The first quarter ended with India holding a slender one-goal lead on aggregate.
 
Two minutes into the second quarter, Lalit Upadhyay managed to get his stick on Hardik Singh's shot to double India's aggregate lead. Akashdeep Singh then scored twice in the 23rd and 29th minute to put clear daylight between his side and the Russians.
 
At half-time, India led 3-1, taking the aggregate score to 7-3.
 
Russia then pulled up their socks to ensure that they didn't concede any more goals in the third quarter. They also created a good chance, but the final shot was woefully off target. But by the end of the quarter, the Russians cut a tired figure and finally buckled in the fourth quarter.
 
Nilakanta Sharma, Amit Rohidas and Rupinder Singh (2) found the back of the net in the final quarter as India pumped in four goals past Russia to seal an emphatic victory.
 
IANS
 

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Captain Rani's strike sends India to 2020 Olympics

Rani Rampal
Rani Rampal
The Indian women's hockey team on Saturday confirmed a place in the 2020 Olympics after surviving an extraordinary fightback from the USA in the second leg of their Olympic qualifier at the Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar. 
 
The USA fought back from a 5-1 deficit from the first leg to level the score 5-5 in the first half. India put up an improved performance in the second half with skipper Rani Rampal scoring what turned out to be the winning goal in the 49th minute.
 
After what was a nightmarish first half in which a relentless USA banged in four goals, India came out in the second half as a much more compact unit. They were losing possession cheaply in the early exchanges but being more intent in attacks meant that they were pushing back the confident Americans.
 
All of this culminated in a penalty corner (PC). Gurjit Kaur took the drag flick which missed the target by inches. She kept it on target when they won another PC a couple of minutes later and it was a brilliant reflex save from Kelsey Bing that kept the scoreline level. The third quarter ended with the score 5-5 on aggregate and it was the first in which India hadn't conceded a goal.
 
The final quarter started with India much more comfortable in possession. They were given an impetus when the USA got a yellow card and were thus down to 10 players for five minutes.
 
India took advantage with Rani firing it into the roof of the net from the edge of the circle after a scramble in the box in the very next minute.
 
India kept the USA under strain for much of the final quarter before the final few minutes, when they were pushed back by the visitors. However the hosts held on and ensured a place in the Olympics for the second time on the trot.
 
India's four-goal advantage was wiped away in the first half of the match as a relentless USA came out all guns blazing. They got consecutive penalty corners in the third minute, with a shot from rebound on an open goal going wide.
 
The USA kept at it however and soon got the first goal through another PC. Amanda Magadan managed to get a deflection in the air off captain Kathleen Sharkey's drag-flick and scored the first goal of the night in the fifth minute.
 
India put the US defence under some pressure for a few minutes after that but the balance soon shifted back to the away side's favour. Sharkey cut the deficit to two goals in the 14th minute after a brilliant passing move from the USA. The hooter blew a minute later with the USA leading the match 2-0 and trailing 5-3 on aggregate.
 
Loose balls and carelessness in possession cost India dear in the first quarter and it was more of the same in the second. Five minutes in, Alyssa Parker finished a shot from Danielle Grega to make it 3-0 on the night and 5-4 on aggregate.
 
India forced a penalty corner after that. It was a scrambled affair which the USA cleared with ease. They were hardly able to hold on to possession as the USA dominated the midfield. The next few minutes of the match were a messy affair with both teams getting green cards and India also collecting a yellow.
 
Just two minutes before the half time hooter went off, Magadan scored her second of the night to complete the USA's extraordinary comeback.
 
Final score: India 1-4 USA (6-5 aggregate)
 
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Visakha Express rolls with AC coaches, leaves behind other bogies

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A major train mishap was averted after a few bogies of the Bhubaneswar-Secunderabad Visakha Express got detached from its engine in Odisha on Saturday.
 
The incident occurred minutes after the train left the Balugaon railway station in Khurda district. The engine rolled with the AC coaches and left behind all the other bogies. Fortunately, no passenger was injured in the incident.
 
The train was on its way from Bhubaneswar when the bogies decoupled from the engine.
 
"The train decoupled between the AC 2-tier and the S-1 coach. It appears that there was a defect in a particular locking arrangement joining the two coaches. After recoupling, the train resumed service at around 11 a.m.," the East Coast Railway (ECoR) said in a statement.
 
The train went through several periodic checks after the incident. It will be checked again at Brahmapur and Visakhapatnam. The train is being escorted by coach repairing staff, ECoR added.
 
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Hockey Olympic Qualifiers: Indian men beat Russia 4-2, women USA 5-1

 
Indian hockey teams, men and women, virtually assured themselves of Olympic places as they chalked out contrasting wins over Russia and the United States at the Kalinga Stadium here on Friday.
 
Indian men beat Russia 4-2 while women outplayed the USA 5-1 in their respective first leg matches.
 
With the home advantage and sitting fully 17 places above Russia in the FIH World Rankings, it came as little surprise that India's men started this contest as heavy favourites. 
 
However, it proved to be far from straightforward for the hosts, who were made to dig deep to secure a 4-2 victory against an opponent that gave a terrific account of themselves. India took the lead in the first quarter thanks to a penalty stroke from Harmanpreet Singh after team captain Manpreet Singh had been fouled, but Russia hit back when an overhead pass was collected and emphatically dispatched by Andrey Kuraev.
 
Russia had good chances to move ahead before Mandeep Singh put India into a 2-1 lead at half time. Fourth-quarter goals from S V Sunil and a second for Mandeep gave the hosts a 4-1 advantage, but Semen Matkovskiy’s late penalty corner keeps Russia’s interest in this two-legged qualifier very much alive.
 
Talking to media persons after the match Indian coach Graham Reid said  "I am not surprised with the Russian performance. They came out and played very well. Full credit to them. The world rankings systems, it looks like they are 22 in the world. But they are a really good team. That's what I have been telling all along. They had no pressure, went in as the underdog.
 
He, however, was candid in his admission, saying, "I was disappointed with the way our boys played. I have spoken to them about that. Hopefully, there will be a reaction tomorrow. We can show everyone tomorrow how well we can play. I just asked them, who can play better tomorrow? Of course, they all put their hands up. They will have their opportunity to show us how well they can play. 
 
"We needed to get the ball into the midfield today. We did not get enough play through the midfield. It gets very difficult to get flow when those connections are missing," he added.
 
Earlier, the Indian women outwitted the USA to emerge 5-1 winner. It was the Americans who were largely dominant in the first two quarters of the match. However, the  Indians  found themselves ahead at the break when Lilima Minz scored from an improvised penalty corner. While the hosts were perhaps fortunate to have the half-time lead, the quality of their performance in the third and fourth quarters ensured that they were fully deserving winners of this contest.  
 
Sharmila Devi, Gurjit Kaur (2) and Navneet Kaur all found the target as India dominated the proceedings before Erin Matson's late consolation goal gave the USA a small glimmer of hope going into tomorrow’s second leg.
 
After the win, Indian coach Sjoerd Marijne said, "I think in the first 28 minutes, we struggled with nerves, We lost the ball too fast. We gave them too many opportunities. Luckily they didn't make it, otherwise, the match would have been different. 
 
"Making use of opportunities is a quality, which we did pretty well today. You could see the nerves were gone and we played to our potential. 
 
"We were up 5-0 and wanted to keep that score. But we fell back a bit too much and need to improve on that tomorrow. The  girls were happy with the result but not extremely excited. They know we have to play to our potential," he said.
 
 
He, however,  dismissed a query about whether the Indian women had assured themselves of a place in the Olympics. "No, absolutely not. You know how the process can go. You don't get a ticket to Tokyo today. You can get it tomorrow. You have nothing so far."
 
"I think we were very effective. You cannot expect that always to happen. We are happy today but  not sure it would happen again tomorrow."
 
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Men's Hockey: India overcome Russian challenge in 1st leg of Olympic qualifiers

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The Indian men's hockey team inched closer to sealing their berth in the 2020 Tokyo Games after they beat Russia 4-2 in the first leg of their Olympic qualifiers at the Kalinga stadium here on Saturday. The second and final leg will be held on Saturday.
 
The goal difference could have been higher had it not been for three spectacular saves made by Russian goalkeeper Marat Gafarov in the dying minutes of the match. Gafarov also saved a few penalty corners awarded to the hosts.
 
India were the outright favourites against 22nd-ranked Russia before the match started. But complacency was the buzzword going around the Indian camp ahead of the clash, although coach Graham Reid had said that it was more about focussing on the basics. In the previous match between the two sides, India had beaten Russia 10-0.
 
India took an early lead thanks to a penalty stroke from Harmanpreet Singh in the fifth minute. Fans at the Kalinga stadium would have started to expect another goal feast at that point but the Russians pegged the hosts back with some well-constructed moves on the other side of the pitch.
 
Russia forced a few good saves from P. R. Sreejesh before their enterprise finally bore fruit in the 17th minute. Rupinder Singh was caught napping by an overhead pass which was calmly slotted into the goal by Andrey Kuraev.
 
India were struggling to find their rhythm until then and the goal seemed to give them some much-needed impetus as Mandeep Singh put India in the lead again with six minutes to go in the first half.
 
India had only one more shot than Russia in the first half and made 10 circle penetrations as opposed to their opponents' six.
 
India came out with a more fluid approach in the second half and goals from S. V. Sunil (48th minute) and Mandeep Singh (53rd minute) made the scoreline look like what was expected before the match. However, the Russians did not take their foot off the pedal.
 
Semen Matkovskiy managed to convert one of the seven shots the away side managed in the second half to reduce the deficit in the final minute of the match.
 
Gafarov then did his bit to ensure that the second leg does not become a formality, making three fine saves to check India from swelling the lead.
 
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India thrash USA 5-1 to put one foot in Olympics

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The India women's hockey team put one foot in the Tokyo Olympics next year by registering a 5-1 victory over the United States in a qualifier first-leg clash at the Kalinga Stadium here on Friday.
 
India scored four goals in 11 minutes after half-time to kill the tie as Gurjeet Kaur scored a brace.
 
Erin Matson scored a consolation goal for the USA in the 54th minute from a penalty stroke and the 13th-ranked away side got a host of chances to reduce the deficit in the dying minutes but it was not enough. In the end the hosts took a huge step towards the Tokyo Olympics.
 
In the second leg on Saturday, the USA will need a miracle to harbour any hopes of making the Olympics cut.
 
India began with a high-press but the USA were sharp in creating chances and getting its shots away.
 
Early in the second quarter, India got their first clear-cut chance when Lalremsiami hit a cross from the left towards an onrushing Sharmila at the far post. However, the winger was unable to get on the end of the cross and the USA had a lucky escape.
 
The USA earned a lot of penalty corners but the Indian defence stood firm before, completely against the run of play, India took the lead in the 29th minute.
 
The hosts won back to back penalty corners and Sharmila worked the ball away to Neha Goyal on the baseline, who then did brilliantly to fend off her marker and pass the ball to Lilima Minz, who stabbed home from close.
 
India led 1-0 at halftime. The script took a turn for the worse for the visitors in the second period as India scored two more goals in quick succession.
 
First, Vandana played a one-two on the left to put Sharmila Devi in the clear who then deflected the ball into the goal to double India's lead in the 40th minute.
 
Two minutes later, Gurjit sounded the board in her fourth attempt as India started pulling away.
 
In the fourth quarter, they became more dominant and threatened to score from almost every foray. In the 46th minute, Salima Tete burst into the out circle to put Navneet Kaur through and the latter smashed home from the edge of the circle to make it 4-0. India made it five goals in their favour when Gurjit scored her second from a penalty stroke.
 
Matson scored one from a penalty stroke too for the USA but it was scant consolation for them as they failed to find more goals in the remaining eight minutes.
 
The team with the highest number of goals over the two matches will qualify for the Olympics. If both the teams are tied on goals after the second-leg, then there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.
 
The ninth-ranked Indian women's team beat the USA only once in their past ten encounters. The victory came in July, 2016 in the tri-series involving India, USA and Canada.
 
IANS

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Odisha: 7-month fishing ban to protect Olive Ridley turtles

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The Odisha government on Friday imposed a seven-month ban on fishing within 20 kms of the mouths of Dhamara, Devi and Rushikulya rivers for protecting the nests of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles.
 
The ban will be in force till May 31, 2020.
 
The ban has been imposed on sea fishing under the provisions of the Odisha Marine Fishing Regulation Act (OMFRA), 1982 and provisions of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
 
Use of motor boats, trawlers and mechanised fishing boats has been prohibited along the stretch of Dhamra-Devi-Rushikulya river mouths to protect the endangered turtles, said a forest official.
 
The Olive Ridley sea turtles come to Gahirmatha beach in Kendrapara district, Devi river mouth in Puri district, and Rushikulya river mouth in Ganjam district to lay eggs every year.
 
The endangered turtles arrive every year during winter for mass nesting. They lay eggs in March following mating and the hatchlings come out by May.
 
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Hockey: Confident Indian Men's and Women's teams aim to qualify for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

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India will look to book its berths in both men's and women's hockey competition of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 when they play in the double-leg Olympic Qualifiers on November 1 and 2 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium here.
 
World No. 5 Indian Men's Team are scheduled to play World No. 22 Russia, while the World No. 9 Women's Team will face tough competition from World No. 13 USA.
 
The winners of the Qualifiers will make it to the next year's Olympic Games. Both the Indian teams were drawn at home against their respective opponents due to their higher ranking. The men's team will be facing Russia only for the third time since 2008, with the previous two encounters seeing the hosts register huge victories (8-0 in a Round-Robin match of the World Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in 2008; and 10-0 in the Pool A match of the FIH Men's Series Finals held here earlier this year).
 
Speaking ahead of the two matches, Men's Team's captain Manpreet  said, "We are well-prepared for this tournament. We are not concerned about the disparity in the world ranking. For us, every match we play is like we are playing against World Champions. We have suffered in the past due to over-confidence and we will not let that happen this time." 
 
Russian team coach Vladimir Konkin, on the other hand, said, "We are ranked lower than India but in our hearts and in our mind, we are ranked higher and we will really fight till the last minute. We are definitely prepared to play better than what we did during the FIH Series Final." 
 
Meanwhile, the Women's Team have played their opponents USA on eight occasions since 2014, registering one win which came in the Test Matches held in 2016.  India ended up on the losing side on six occasions but the vast improvement in the team saw India play a 1-1 draw in their Pool B match of the  World Cup last year.
 
Chief coach Sjoerd Marijne spoke highly of his current side, and said that they are ready for the test. "We are really excited to play. These are the two matches we have looked forward to and worked on for a whole year. We are ready for the challenge," stated the Dutchman. 
 
Skipper Rani further added, "After missing out on qualifying at the Asian Games, we decided to shift our focus on to the Olympic Qualifiers. Regardless of who our opponent would be, we trained the entire year for these two matches and now we are looking forward to bring our best."
 
Kathleen Sharkey, USA captain, stated: "I have seen India improve over the years and every match we have played against them, it has been close and the fight is intense. We are expecting a good challenge from them. These past few days here have been good for us to get used to the weather."
 
The winners will be determined as follows: teams will be ranked according to the number of points each has accumulated in both matches (for each match, 3 points are awarded to the winner, 1 point to each team in the event of a draw and 0 point to the loser). If there is equality among the two teams, then the teams will be ranked according to their respective goal difference.
 
If the equality remains, a shoot-out competition will be played to establish the winner. Therefore, the objective of both the Indian  Teams will be to secure direct qualification for the Tokyo 2020 hockey tournaments - which will be staged from 25 July to 7 August next year and involve 12 Men’s and 12 Women’s teams.
 
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Hockey: Birendra Lakra to replace injured Varun Kumar in team for FIH Olympic Qualifiers

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Hockey India on Wednesday named defender Birender Lakra to replace injured defender-drag-flicker Varun Kumar for the crucial FIH Olympic Qualifier matches against Russia at the Kalinga Stadium here on November 1 and 2.
 
"Varun Kumar injured his shoulder and right bicep on Monday while training. He has been receiving treatment since then but unfortunately it has not shown enough signs of improvement," said Indian Men's Hockey Team's Chief coach Graham Reid. 
 
"Following the advice from our medical staff who have suggested that he requires rest for a few weeks before he returns to action. Hence, we have decided to replace him with Birendra Lakra, a class defender with over 170 international caps. He is very experienced and knows well the conditions in Bhubaneswar and is ready to play," he added.
 
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Hockey: USA skipper Kathleen Sharkey confident of performing well against India in Olympic qualifiers

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USA Women's Hockey Team skipper Kathleen Sharkey on Friday exuded confidence about performing well against India in the crucial double-leg  FIH Olympic Qualifiers to be played at the  Kalinga Stadium here on November 1 and 2.
 
The team  arrived here earlier in the day and Sharkey expressed her team's excitement to play a major event here. "It is exciting to be in India. None of us has been here before but we know India has a great history in hockey and people here are very passionate about the sport with a lot of fans coming to watch the matches live.
 
"We saw the spectacular Men's World Cup hosted here in Bhubaneswar. We are looking forward to playing here and taking home the experience of playing in one of the world's most famous cities for hockey," the 29-year-old, who has 174 international caps to her name, said.
 
The Indian Women's Team had last met the USA during the 2018 Women's World Cup in London where India held them to a 1-1 draw. Aware of India's capabilities of doing well, Sharkey said, "Our goal is obviously to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. We want to put forth our best in those two games and make sure we play to our potential against India."
 
USA's Head Coach Janneke Schopman, meanwhile, spoke of her team's preparedness ahead of the crucial tie against India. She said, "We are well-prepared for the Indian team. They have progressed well over the past year and so have we. We have been following India matches lately. We are expecting close matches and our team is very excited to be here." 
 
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India will closely follow Hockey Olympic Qualifiers this weekend: Vice-captain S V Sunil

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Though the Indian team eagerly await their challenge against Russia in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers to be held at the Kalinga Stadium here on November 1-2, they  will keep a close eye on the qualifying matches this weekend where Pakistan will take on World Cup runners-up The Netherlands on October 26-27 in Amsterdam.
 
Spain will play against France in Valencia on while Canada, too, will be vying for an Olympic berth when they take on Ireland at home in West Vancouver.
 
"It's going to be a great weekend of hockey with Pakistan taking on the Netherlands and Spain taking on France. Canada, who gave us the woes back in the Rio Olympics will also be playing for an Olympic spot when they take on Ireland. Anything can happen in such crunch games and all teams will come prepared to win a berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. We will be watching these matches together as a team activity and I don't think we can predict a clear winner simply because these are Olympic Qualifiers and any team can create an upset. We have seen such results in the past," said Indian team vice-captain S V Sunil.
 
The Indian team, during their recent tour of Belgium, underwent joint training sessions with the Dutch National team which Sunil described as "high-intensity training".
 
"We got to see the level of intensity they brought to their training sessions. We monitored their GPS tracking to see the kind of energy they bring into every drill and every interval. They looked in good nick. One can never take their opponents lightly especially when an Olympic Qualification is at stake and a first-hand glimpse of the Netherlands training ahead of their Qualifier against Pakistan showed that they were not taking their opponents lightly. I am sure the Qualifying matches this weekend is going to be top-notch. We saw what France is capable of when they beat Olympic Champions Argentina in the Men's World Cup last year and the result eventually put Spain out of the knoc-kout stage. They are a very capable team and are developing fast into a strong hockey-playing nation," he said.
 
Sunil said that, while the Indian team is going through final preparations in Bhubaneswar, watching these matches will give them an understanding of what to expect in the coming season when India plays the FIH Hockey Pro League starting in January.
 
"The Netherlands is the first team we play in the FIH Hockey Pro League (on 18 and 19 January ). They are a team we have always followed closely and these Qualifying matches will give us an understanding about their progress this year and what we can expect from them in January when the season starts. Although our focus right now is the Olympic Qualifier against Russia, it is always good to have an idea of what we need to be prepared for in the coming season," he added 
 
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IIT student dies after 'falling' from hostel roof in Odisha

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A student of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bhubaneswar died after allegedly falling from the hostel roof, police said on Tuesday.
 
Chirag Pravin Jain, a second year student of Computer Science, was found dead on Monday evening.
 
Jain, hailing from Pune in Maharashtra, was admitted to hospital after he reportedly fell from the roof of the hostel. He, however, died at the hospital while undergoing treatment.
 
"On Monday evening, a student of IIT-Bhubaneswar fell off from the roof and sustained serious injuries. He was rushed to hospital where he succumbed to the injury. A case of unnatural death has been registered and we are investigating the case," said Anup Sahu, Bhubaneswar Deputy Commissioner of Police.
 
IIT Bhubaneswar in a statement said the local police is currently investigating the matter and trying to ascertain the exact cause of death.
 
The parents of the deceased student have been informed about the incident.
 
"This is indeed an irreparable loss to the institute and the family. May his soul rest in peace," the institution said in the statement.
 
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Women's Hockey: Keen to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Olympics, says midfielder Sushila Chanu

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The Indian women's hockey team is currently training at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium as they prepare to take on World No. 13 USA in the double-leg FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, slated to be played here on November 1 and 2.
 
Midfielder Sushila Chanu believes that the Indian team is determined to put in the hard yards and book their berth in next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.
 
"We know how it felt representing the country at the Olympics when we qualified for it after a 36-year gap last time in Rio. However, when we came back from that outing, there was a unanimous feeling around the group that we need to push ourselves and make sure that we are consistently putting in the performances which will help us in qualifying for the next edition."
 
"We have made huge strides from the previous Olympics, and now we are all very determined to secure our place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics," said Sushila.
 
Having missed two major tournaments last year due to a long-term injury, she returned to the side at the start of this year, but says the journey back to the team has been a tough one.
 
"It was unfortunate that I suffered a long-term injury in 2018, and had to miss major tournaments like the FIH Women's Hockey World Cup London 2018, the Asian Games 2018 and the AHF Women's Champions Trophy. It was a very difficult period for me personally as I was low on confidence, and when you are injured, most of the time you are supposed to train alone with your trainer." 
 
"There were times when I would doubt myself and think about the what-ifs, but the support I received from my family, support staff and my teammates was immense, it helped me in making a comeback," the ace midfielder said.
 
The 26-year-old, who has 179 international caps to her credit, has been a regular fixture in the Indian women's team ever since making her debut with the senior team in 2009, and was the captain of the Indian team at the Rio Olympics. 
 
Speaking on the experience of having played at the Olympics, Sushila fondly recalls the moment when she led her team onto the pitch. "I was honoured to have been named the captain of the team in 2016, and it was a surreal experience personally. I had always dreamed about playing for India at the Olympic Games, and when we first stepped onto the field in our first match against Japan, I had goosebumps. I had just recovered from an ACL injury, and to be captaining the side at the biggest tournament was a proud and emotional moment for me."
 
"We have 10 players in this current side who were there in Rio as well, and all of us collectively want to experience that feeling again, and not just that, we want to win a medal for the country this time in Tokyo," said the Manipuri.
 
Looking forward to the upcoming challenge of playing the USA at home, Sushila said their opponents will pose a huge threat but that her team is ready. 
 
"We have the best opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics as we are playing at home against the USA. We will have the support of the home crowd, and even though the USA are a strong unit, we have full belief in ourselves and in the way we play. We have made huge strides in our game from 2016, and now is the time to show it to the world that we are  here to challenge for the top honours, regardless of the opposition we face. That is the kind of confidence that is instilled in the team and we are determined to produce the results in the  qualifiers," she added.
 
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ISL Football: At 21, Vinit mature enough to shoulder midfield burden for Odisha FC

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Vinit Rai is part of a new generation of talented midfielders in India. He has been a mainstay in the midfield for Delhi Dynamos in the last two seasons of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) and is now set to be part of Odisha FC.
 
At 21, Vinit has already made a name for himself with a career that seems so long, yet in the real sense, he has only started with plenty to look forward to. That happens when you have been playing top-flight football from the age of 15.
 
"At the beginning, I did not get many chances to play at the clubs I was in. But I am thankful and grateful to Odisha FC now. I have grown as a player here. I thank the coaches for putting their trust in me and I am hoping to deliver more performances in the future," said Vinit.
 
For Vinit, it all started with a couple of appearances for Dempo in the I-League during the 2014-15 season. His first ISL stint came in 2016 with Kerala Blasters FC, before he hopped over to Minerva Punjab and later Delhi Dynamos.
 
Since joining Delhi, he has played regularly for the first team and found his feet in midfield, a place he truly belongs. He is one of the league's pass masters, averaging more than 40 passes per game with an accuracy of 82.45 per cent despite missing out on regular first-team minutes initially.  Having clocked more than 2000 minutes in the league so far, Vinit is hoping to continue his growth with Odisha.
 
"Midfielders have transitioned fast. I think nowadays we are more comfortable on the ball and the credit goes to ISL, for providing the setup and bringing good coaches.
 
"We are fortunate enough to train under such coaches and play alongside good players. It helps us to learn new things which we can apply to our game. I just love to have the ball all the time, so I can be more involved in the game," said Vinit.
 
India national team boss Igor Stimac prefers players who can use the ball well in midfield and Vinit being one among them has had the chance to impress the Croatian coach. Vinit was handpicked for the coach's first press meet after joining the India team.
 
"I was a bit surprised to see that, but I am very grateful to him that he has been giving me chances since he has arrived. I made my senior debut under him and I am working hard to prove my worth to him," said Vinit, a graduate of the famed Tata Football Academy.
 
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Women's Hockey: Home support will be a huge boost, feels team captain Rani Rampaul

Rani Rampaul
Rani Rampaul
The 18-member Indian Women's Hockey team announced here on Friday by Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne saw the Dutchman retain the players who played in their preparatory tour of England earlier this month, and skipper Rani Rampaul believes that the consistency in selection has helped her team members in understanding each other better on and off the field.
 
"We have a group of players who have played together for a good period of time, and that obviously helps in building a good understanding between all the team members. We know each other in and out, and all of us understand each other both on and off the field, so I believe it has also helped us a lot. We are now preparing to be at our best when we take on the USA in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers here at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium," said Rani.
 
Looking back at her experience of representing the national team on home grounds, Rani said the support in Bhubaneswar will be a huge boost for her side. 
 
"Some members from this team have played in India before but that was way back in the FIH World League Round 2 in 2013, but the crowd that comes out to watch hockey in Bhubaneswar is nothing like that. We know we will be cheered on from the first minute of the match, and we are all looking forward to playing at home. It is a good moment in your life when you play such a huge match in front of your home crowd, and the team is looking forward to producing a great performance and enjoying it on the field," she said.
 
"We are looking at all the positives and we know it is always an advantage when you play at home. But the USA is a strong side, and they will also be at their best when we face them here. I am sure they will be coming to win, but we have confidence in ourselves, and the energy that you get from the crowd will only help us in giving our best on the field," said the 24-year-old.
 
Leading the side into two matches of such high intensity, Rani said there is pressure, but her team has huge belief in themselves, and are focusing on doing the basics right in both the matches. "We all know how important these matches are, but we cannot let them get to us. We have played in huge matches before and we now have the experience of coping with the pressure. We will play our own game and focus on the basics. If we can continue with the way we have been playing, and play according to our plans, we will be able to produce good results," she added.
 
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Hockey: Indian team in good form in lead-up to Olympic Qualifiers, says Chief Coach Graham Reid

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The Indian Men's Hockey Team has been in fine form lately, winning the FIH Men's Series Finals Bhubaneswar 2019 in June, the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Test Event in August, and then winning all five of their matches against World Champions Belgium and World No. 8 Spain as part of their preparations for the much anticipated FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Odisha.
 
Chief Coach Graham Reid believes that it is important for the team to keep working in the right direction.
 
Talking to media persons, Reid said that he was satisfied with the performances his team put in against Belgium and Spain during their preparatory tour but wants his players to maintain the momentum when they take on World No. 22 Russia on November 1 and 2 here at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium. 
 
"We have been in the process of debriefing our Belgium Tour to go back and work out what we did well, what were the things we needed to improve on, and then come up with the objectives that we are going forward with in the coming two weeks. We have almost finished that process and its been a really good exercise for the team, and it is also good for the players that they understand what are the things that they do when they are playing well. There were things like good pressure on the ball, good structure and those things were quite evident when we went back to see how we played in Belgium. We've had a good week here in Bhubaneswar to determine what were the outcomes from that preparatory tour, and now is the time to continue working in that direction," said Reid.
 
India maintained their record on the Belgium Tour and Reid believes that it is down to the consistent level of intensity shown by his team. 
 
"For me, the good takeaways were that our GPS numbers were great, which means that the running, effort, speed and intensity was actually even higher than last year's World Cup. So they were very good numbers for us to see, and for the players to understand that to play at that level, you need to be achieving those consistently. Another part was the consistency of our performances against Belgium and Spain, and it was good to see that we kept building momentum as the tour progressed," he said.
 
Reid, who took over as the Chief Coach of the  Men's Hockey Team in April this year, also spoke about the return of some players from injury during their Belgium Tour. 
 
"The players who have been long-term injured returned to the team in Belgium, and I feel it was good for them to get back into the groove of playing consistently at that level. It was a really good experience for them to be able to play again, and it also gave me an opportunity to see them closely, and now select the best 18-member team for the upcoming FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers," he said.
 
The coach opined that his team will be focused on doing the right things and producing a good performance. "There is always the concern about playing a team like Russia and it is, that they hold the ball very well, they like to be in possession. Trying to get the ball off them is always difficult, so that is something we need to keep an eye on and make sure that our tackling, interception and pressing skills are at the highest level. 
 
"We want to make sure that we are playing at our best, and there will be no complacency. It does not matter who we play, we will approach the game in the same manner, that is, in a professional and respectful way," he said.
 
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Women's Hockey: Important to stay in rhythm, says Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne

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With just two weeks remaining for the all-important FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers to be held here on November 1-2, the Indian Women’s team is all set for the best-of-two-matches showdown against the formidable USA.
 
This is the first time the Indian Women’s team will be playing at the  Kalinga Stadium and their eagerness and excitement to experience the electrifying atmosphere often created by the hockey-crazy spectators here is palpable.
 
Skipper Rani Rampaul summed it up. “We have been looking forward to playing here for a long time now. This is a dream-come-true moment for many of us and we thoroughly enjoyed our first session of training at the Kalinga Stadium on Monday. We are hopeful hockey lovers from this region will come to support us in our quest to make the qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”
 
In a bid to give his team a feel of the home conditions and atmosphere, Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne has emphasised on the two high-intensity practice sessions which take place on October 19 and 26 at the stadium, where fans will get the chance to watch the girls play live, and perhaps even get to meet their favourite stars.
 
"At this stage, it is important to tick all the boxes to make sure we have done everything that we could to be at our best for the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Odisha,” Marijne said.
 
“I want the athletes to have an idea of the kind of atmosphere they will be playing in on match days. We have opened two of our training sessions on Saturdays in the lead up to the event, so that the players can get a feel of the environment here and it will also give the fans an opportunity to show their support for the Indian Women’s Team,” he said.
 
Speaking about the next two weeks in Bhubaneswar, Marijne said, “We built a good rhythm during our tour to England where the matches against Great Britain were challenging and it was also an enriching experience – much needed ahead of the important qualifiers. I think we are in that perfect rhythm at the moment and I want the players to build on this momentum. We are training one session every day and I am quite happy with the energy and confidence the girls are showing.”  
 
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1 killed, 3 feared trapped in MCL coal mine in Odisha (Lead)

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A coal miner was killed and three are feared trapped after a dump slide at an open cast mine of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd. (MCL) in Odisha's Talcher, said an official on Wednesday.
 
At least nine have been injured in the incident.
 
"Body of a missing coal miner was recovered while the rescue operation was underway to search for remaining three workers trapped in debris following strata collapse last night here at Bharatpur open cast project in Talcher Coalfields of MCL," said an MCL statement.
 
It said labourers working in the night shift at Bharatpur open cast mine came under a dump slide due to a strata failure.
 
The accident occurred between 11 p.m.-11.30 p.m. on Tuesday when a portion of earth broke loose, trapping 13 workers and machinery at work, it said.
 
The fellow labourers and rescue teams immediately swung into action and rescued nine workers, who were shifted to the company's Central Hospital at Talcher for treatment of minor injuries.
 
While one body has been recovered, the rescue operation was underway with the help of MCL's mines rescue team, local police and MCL security personnel to search for the three missing workers.
 
The Director (Technical/Operations) and the Director (Personnel) are overseeing the rescue operations and an inquiry committee, under the General Manager (Safety and Rescue), has started an investigation to ascertain the cause of strata failure, the statement said.
 
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Three Railway employees dead as train rams into tower car in Odisha

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Three Railway employees died when the 18005 Howrah-Jagadalpur Samaleshwari Express rammed into a maintenance tower car engaged in repair works between Singapur Road and Keutguda in Rayagada district of Odisha today.
 
The deceased employees were identified as Suresh, Technician, Maintenance Tower Car, Sagar, Senior Section Engineer, Electrical, Rayagada and Gouri Naidu, Technician, Electrical, Rayagada.
 
The engine, front guard-cum-luggage van and a general second class coach of the train were derailed due to the impact of the crash, which occurred around 1630 hours, East Coast Railway (ECoR) officials said.
 
The engine of the train also caught fire after it hit the tower car and was detached from the rake of Samaleshwari Express, they said.
 
The rest of the train and the passengers were not affected by the fire, which was confined to the engine. Fire tenders rushed to the scene and doused the flames.
 
Senior railway officers from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh left for the site of the mishap as soon as information was received, the officials said.
 
The station masters on duty at Keutuguda and Singapur Road stations have been placed under suspension.
 
The officials said the detached train returned to Rayagada this evening with the help of another engine attached to its rear. There were a total of 148 passengers on the train.
 
The Railways have ordered an inquiry by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), Kolkata. The CRS is an independent statutory authority under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
 
"The matter is being viewed most seriously and the Railway Board has been apprised of the full details of the incident," the officials said.
 
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Fourth Saturday as holiday for Odisha govt employees

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The Odisha government has declared the fourth Saturday of every month as a general holiday for all state government employees.
 
The government also rescheduled the working hours in offices functioning under it to improve efficiency of administration and make it more citizen-centric.
 
"The day-to-day working hours in the government offices shall be from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. with half-an-hour lunch break from 1.30 p.m. to 2 p.m.," said a statement issued by the general administration department on Saturday.
 
However, the order is not applicable for vacation departments.
 
The first half of every fourth Saturday will be devoted by the heads of departments for deliberating on implementation of '5Ts' and for training and brainstorming of innovative ideas for the development of state, the statement said.
 
While addressing the senior officers here, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik emphasized on implementation of 5Ts - Technology, Teamwork, Transparency and Time leading to Transformation.
 
"I want all of you to identify services and processes where in the first phase you want to implement 5 Ts. Preferably wherever there is citizen interface. The CMO will monitor implementation of 5Ts," said the Chief Minister.
 
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BJD, BJP declare candidates for three RS seats of Odisha

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The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday announced candidates for the bye-elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from Odisha.
 
BJD president Naveen Patnaik declared party's IT Cell Chairman Amar Patnaik and spokesperson Sasmit Patra as party's nominees for the Upper House of Parliament.
 
Patnaik also announced his support for retired IAS officer Ashwini Baishnab, the BJP candidate from Odisha.
 
"The Prime Minister spoke to me as did the Home Minister. We (BJD) will support the candidature of Ashwini Baishnab, who was the private secretary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he was the Prime Minister," said Patnaik.
 
"The party has decided that Ashwini Baishnab will be BJP's candidate for the upcoming bypolls to the Rajya Sabha from Odisha," tweeted BJP's state unit.
 
The polling will be held on July 5 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. while the counting of votes will take place at 5 p.m. the same day.
 
Three seats had fallen vacant after Achyuta Samanta, Pratap Keshari Deb and Soumya Ranjan Patnaik were elected to Lok Sabha and Assembly in the recently held elections.
 
While Samanta was elected from Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat, Deb and Patnaik were elected from Aul and Khandapada Assembly segments.
 
Samanta and Patnaik's term in the Upper House was to end in April, 2024 while Deb's term in the Rajya Sabha was till July, 2022.
 
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Hockey: India outplay South Africa 5-1 to win FIH Men’s hockey Series Finals

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Playing to a plan, India outpaced South Africa 5-1 to win the FIH Men’s Hockey Series Finals in front of their home fans here on Saturday. Asian Games Champion Japan beat the USA 4-2 to claim the third place.
 
India and South Africa have earned a berth in the FIH Olympic qualifiers.
 
India lived up to their supremacy in the FIH World Rankings. It did not take them very long to take the lead with a goal from Varun Kumar from a penalty corner. The hosts mostly played in South Africa’s half during the first quarter and doubled their lead, with another penalty corner; this time from Harmanpreet Singh.
 
South Africa spared no effort to come back into the match but they struggled to create good chances. And it was India who added another goal to their tally with a penalty stroke ?from Harmanpreet Singh. At Half-time India led  3-0.
 
At the start of the second half, South Africa missed a good opportunity which, if converted, would have given hope and confidence to the African champions. Instead of that, India ?took a 4-goal advantage through Vivek Prasad who converted from a short distance as a result of an offering from Simranjeet Singh after brilliant dribbling in the circle.
 
South Africa were determined to find the target and they were a step away from doing so on two consecutive attempts from Keenan Horne and Richard Pautz towards the end of the third quarter.
 
The final quarter of this tournament saw the home team continue attacking and Varun Kumar scored his second penalty corner. He too was taking his goal tally in this event to six, therefore joining Harmanpreet Singh -- later chosen Man of the Match -- and Semen Matkovskiy at the top of the goalscorer standings. 
 
Meanwhile, the African champions also found the target as Richard Pautz was in the right place to hit the ball over the goal-line from a penalty corner.  
 
After the win, captain Manpreet Singh said, "This was quite a good tournament. We did well and can improve as well. We will work in the camp. Next step is in November (qualifiers), we will prepare for our opponents there."
 
India’s head coach Graham Reid said: “It was a really interesting tournament. There are always things which we can improve. I think that the areas that we worked on in the last two-three months, we’ll be continuing. The boys will now have a couple of weeks off, spend time with their families and recharge their batteries. Then we have a really hard month in July and we go to the Olympic Games’ test event in Tokyo in August. It will be a busy period.”
 
South Africa’s head coach Garreth Ewing opined: “First, we’ll take from this tournament a step to the next round. It was really good for us to spend some time together as a team. The first couple of games were tough but we progressed nicely, then we found our rhythm and we were very competitive and really happy to play against India in the final. We lost to a very good team tonight.”
 
Earlier in a match for the third place, true to the tactical principles they had showcased since the beginning of the tournament, Japan immediately started to put pressure on the USA while the North Americans were defensively well-organised and ready to seize every opportunity to move quickly upfront.
 
On one of their first counter-attacks, the USA won a penalty corner which Aki Kaeppeler converted into the first goal of this match for third place. 
 
However, Japan reacted quickly and following a drag-flick from a penalty corner by Yoshiki Kirishita, Kazuma Murata found the target one minute later.
 
Japan continued to attack and were close to taking the lead after a nice combination inside the circle but the US defence intervened. Half way through the second quarter, the Asian champions were awarded a penalty stroke. However, Hirotaka Zendana missed the target.
 
The Asian champions did not give up and in the same quarter they got another penalty stroke which, this time, Yoshiki Kirishita converted, therefore giving his side a 2-1 lead. In the meantime, Japan’s goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa had denied a further scoring opportunity for the USA with a brilliant save.
 
The second half started with repeated attacks from Japan on USA’s goal. But, despite a plethora of great chances, they were either unable to find the target or were thwarted by US goalkeeper Daniel Wisselink -- later elected Man of the Match -- who was having an outstanding day. Meanwhile, Rutger Wiese’s team always looked dangerous on the break.
 
The dying moments of the game were just thrilling. With one minute to go, the USA managed to get back into the match with a second goal from Aki Kaeppeler from a penalty corner. A shootout competition was looming … but the team of Captain Mohan Gandhi had hardly celebrated their equaliser when they conceded two goals from Kenta Tanaka before the final whistle!
 
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Men's Hockey: India rout Japan to set up title clash with South Africa

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India trounced Asian Games champions Japan 7-2 to set up a title clash with South Africa who overpowered the USA 2-1 in the FIH  hockey Series Finals here on Friday.
 
Hosts India and South Africa will now battle it out for one of the first two spots of this tournament which give access to the FIH Olympic qualifiers scheduled in October-November this year.
 
The all-Asian encounter started at a high tempo and it took only 90 seconds for Japan to open the scoring after a great pass from Kenta Tanaka was converted into a goal by Kenji Kitazato. India immediately put pressure on Japan’s goal in an attempt to get a quick equaliser.
 
After a great save from Yusuke Takano following a shot from Nilakanta Sharma and a missed opportunity by Gursahibjit Singh, the home team levelled the score with a penalty corner from Harmanpreet Singh, who celebrated his 100th cap in the best possible way. 
 
But Japan were determined to give a hard time to the 5th ranked team in the world. First, Kenta Tanaka, at the conclusion of one of his numerous fast runs, put the Indian defence under pressure. Then, in the 20th minute of the game, Kota Watanabe managed to hit the ball into the goal, making it 2-2.
 
But once again, India reacted with no delay. First Ramandeep Singh from a penalty corner and then Hardik Singh doubled their team’s tally within two minutes (4-2).
 
In the second half, India won numerous penalty corners and it was Ramandeep Singh -- later elected Man of the Match -- who converted, scoring his second goal of the night. He was soon copied by his teammate Gursahibjit Singh, increasing the score to 6-2 at the end of the third quarter.
 
The final quarter gave the opportunity to India’s youngest player Vivek Prasad to put his name on the scoresheet, much to the delight of the home crowd. Despite several penalty corners, Japan could not find the net in this second half.
 
Captain Manpreet Singh said after the win, “Japan played very well. They were attacking and did not give us easy chances in the first two quarters. But after that our players played very well, they got good chances and we converted penalty corners. We’re really happy because we’re qualified for the Final and for the FIH Olympic qualifiers. Tomorrow is a really important game for us because South Africa is doing very well. We hope we’ll play as we played today.”
 
Earlier, in the match between the USA and  South Africa, the first opportunity was created by the African champions with Austin Smith’s drag-flick from a penalty corner heading just centimetres wide of the goalpost.
 
South Africa was enjoying most of the ball possession but, as previously showcased in this tournament, USA was defending very well, leaving very little space for their opponents to capitalise upon.
 
South Africa had a further very good opportunity from a deflected ball after another penalty corner, but USA goalkeeper Jonathan Klages cleared it. 
 
On a counter-attack, the USA got a penalty-corner which Aki Kaeppeler converted for the first goal of this semi-final, five seconds before the end of the first quarter. The next fifteen minutes did not provide many scoring chances. A good attempt from Keenan Horne went slightly off target. At half-time, the USA were still leading 1-0.
 
The match continued in the same pattern at the start of the second half. South Africa had to look for the equaliser but they struggled to create opportunities as the USA’s defensive organisation was very solid. Additionally, the American side was quick to go on the attack whenever they turned over possession. However, Garreth Ewing’s team found the net towards the end of the third quarter when a penalty corner was fired home by the experienced Austin Smith.
 
South Africa came very close to taking the lead following two consecutive penalty corners right at the start of the final quarter but Jonathan Klages was in fine form and saved well. The USA reacted quickly with Kei Kaeppeler crossing the ball for Alberto Montilla who could not quite get into position to deflect it into the goal. The intensity of the match was increasing, with the ball moving quickly from one half to the other. With just 30 seconds left to play, the fate of this match was decided: following a shot from Nqobile Ntuli, South Africa’s Nicholas Spooner was in the right place to deflect the ball past the goal-line and give his team a place in the final.
 
South Africa’s Nicholas Spooner said, “0-1 behind, then coming back to score and then the 2-1 was 30 seconds to play. It’s incredible. Great performance from the team. We’re fortunate enough to get a win. I was in the right place at the right time and was lucky enough to hit the ball over the line at the end of the day.”
 
USA’s Head Coach Rutger Wiese said, “Congratulations to South Africa. What two battles we fought with them this week! Overall, I think our first four games were pretty good.”
 
IANS
 
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