Murugappa Gold Cup Hockey: Affan Yousuf’s hat-trick lifts ailing IOC to 4-3 win

Indian forward Affan Yousuf hit a hat-trick as defending champion IOC beat Indian Air Force 4-3 on Monday to remain unbeaten in the 2019 Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament.

IOC came back thrice from a goal down before making it two wins in as many matches.   -  Facebook @MCCMurugappaGoldCup

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) rode on Affan Yousuf’s hat-trick as it beat Indian Air Force (IAF) 4-3 in a topsy-turvy Pool A match in the 2019 Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament on Monday. B.M. Sheshe Gowda scored the second hat-trick of the day as Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB) held Central Secretariat to a 3-3 draw at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium in Chennai.

IOC, which is missing its goalkeeper J. Chetan and forward Vikramjit Singh due to illness, came back thrice from a goal down before making it two wins in as many matches.

IAF was quickly off the blocks, winning a penalty corner in the fourth minute which was converted by dragflicker Damanjit Singh. IOC hit back through Gurjinder Singh when he found the net from a corner in the 11th minute.

Three more goals followed in the second quarter as IAF pressurised IOC with wing crosses. Harwant Singh's 20th-minute strike put IAF back in the lead, but Affan Yousuf found the equaliser six minutes later with a close-range finish. In the 29th minute, Major Singh’s tomahawk from the edge circle put IAF in a strong position as it went into half-time with a 3-2 lead.

IOC equalised for third time soon after the break as Yousuf flicked in his second goal from a penalty corner variation. The Indian international completed his hat-trick to put his side in the lead for the first time when he pounced on a weak clearance from a corner to finish at the near post in the 44th minute. The holiday crowd at the MRK stadium collectively went up in anticipation of a fourth from Yousuf, but the Indian international slipped before he could pull the trigger from close-range.

In the second match, Sheshe Gowda’s (27’) penalty stroke put RSPB upfront but a brace from Govind Singh Rawat (30’, 44’) and a field goal from Jayesh Jadhav (47’) put Central Secretariat 3-1 up in the third quarter. But Sheshe Gowda (52’, 56’) smashed home two penalty corners in the final minutes to secure a 3-3 draw for RSPB.

Results

Pool A: IOC 4 (Gurijinder Singh 11’, Affan Yousuf 26’ 31’44’) bt IAF 3 (Damanjit Singh 4’, Harwant Singh 20’, Major Singh 29’)

Pool B: Central Secretariat 3 (Govind Singh Rawat 30’ 44’,Jayesh Jadhav 47’) drew with RSPB 3 (B.M. Sheshe Gowda 27’ 52’ 56’)