Bangalore, Sept 30: Hosts Karnataka, scoring twice in the first-half through MK Mudappa and PL Thimmanna, edged out Tamil Nadu 2-0 and entered the semi-final of Hockey India’s second senior men’s National hockey championship, here on Sunday.
The quarter-final game was well-fought and Tamil Nadu had their chances, but it was Karnataka who came good with two opportunistic goals late in the first-half to make progress.
Karnataka joined defending champions Haryana who earlier in the day defeated Manipur 4-2 in the first quarter-final match.
Mudappa was in the right place at the right time to deflect home a cross from Pundalik Bellary with the ball eluding the gloves of Olympian goalkeeper Sreejesh. Mudappa quickly scrambled home to set off celebrations in the 29th minute.
Three minutes later, Thimmanna got a touch to a long hit from the centre-line by skipper Vikram Kanth for the second Karnataka goal with Sreejesh unable to react to the threat.
In the second-half, both teams took turns to dominate but the rival goalkeepers Sreejesh and Tarun Thammanna brought off good saves that pegged the score-line.
Neither team was able to convert a couple of penalty corners with the set-piece play not sharp enough to produce goals.
A disappointed Tamil Nadu coach Mohd Riaz Nabi attributed the defeat to the collective inexperience of his team.
“Considering the strength and composition of Karnataka team that had about seven to eight international players, besides country’s top drag-flick expert (VR Raghunath), I am quite satisfied with the performance of my team.
“We had barely two to three days of training before coming to Bangalore. Majority of the boys are very young and inexperienced, but we had a few chances, especially the penalty corners, but couldn’t stop the ball because of bad bounce,” said Riaz, a former India player and one of the finest centre-half the country has produced in recent times.
The results (quarter-finals):
Karnataka 2 (MK Mudappa 29th; PL Thimanna 32nd) beat Tamil Nadu 0.
Haryana 4 (Bharat Chhikara 3rd, 6th; Mandeep Antil 43rd; Didar Singh 44th) beat Manipur 2 (Jayantakumar Meitel 31st, 60th) (Detailed report here).
Hockey India Press Release