Johor Bahru (Malaysia), Oct 17 (IANS) India defeated Australia 1-0 to register its third consecutive victory ahead of the final of the 5th Sultan of Johor Cup junior hockey tournament here on Saturday. Harmanpreet Singh converted a penalty stroke in the 42nd minute to give the victory to two-time defending champions India, who will face Britain in the summit clash at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium on Sunday. India topped the points table with 12 points riding on wins over Pakistan (5-1), Argentina (3-2) and Malaysia (2-1). They lost to Britain 3-4 in the second match but will take confidence from the three back-to-back wins going into the final.
Australia, who will face Argentina in the bronze medal match, challenged India from the first minute and didn’t concede a goal in the first half despite a string of attacks from the Asian side. However, an Australian defensive error in the 42nd minute resulted in a penalty stroke that was converted by set-piece specialist Harmanpreet.
Afterwards, India also put up a good defensive structure in place to hold on to the lead and won. ‘It’s great to finish the league matches on a winning note. It wasn’t an easy game and we played against a tough Australian team today. However Harmanpreet duly converted the penalty stroke which gave us the much-needed lead,” India chief coach Harendra Singh said in a release. “The boys are confident of defending the title and I am hopeful about witnessing some top quality hockey tomorrow from both the teams.”