The writing was clearly on the wall for Army XI as they headed into their third and final Pool A encounter against South Central Railway. The Armymen had drawn their opening match against Punjab National Bank 1-1 and subsequently caved in against Indian Oil 1-4 in their second game. Only a big impressive win could have kept them in the tournament but that was not to be the case on Friday as they were inflicted a 2-3 defeat by hosts South Central Railway at the Gooncha 57th Senior Nehru Hockey Tournament being played at the South-Central Railway Sports Complex in Hyderabad.
Skipper MG Poonacha once again provided inspiration to South Central Railway scoring an early goal – his 4th of the tourney. It rubbed off on his team-mate Lovedeep Singh who a brace – in both halves to have Army XI reeling midway through the third quarter as they trailed 0-3. The Armymen mounted a serious fightback in the final quarter and scored two goals via Sukhdeep Singh Randhawa and Rajant
With five minutes remaining 3-2 in favour of South-Central Railway, it could have gone either way but the Railmen had their nerves to avoid last-gasp anxiety to sneak in a crucial win which will lift their fortunes after 2-4 opening tie loss to Punjab National Bank – in fact, their job has been made tougher for semifinal qualification after Indian Oil and Punjab National Bank played out a goalless draw in the other match of the day. The bankmen and the oilmen have one win and one draw from two games and are poised to secure their semifinal passage unless of course, South-Central Railway pour cold water on their aspirations by pulling off a win over fancied Indian Oil.