New Delhi: Indian eves suffered their first defeat in the tournament when they went down fighting to top-ranked South Africa 2-5 in their fourth encounter of the women's qualifiers for the London Olympics, at the Dhyan Chand Stadium, here on Wednesday.

South Africa clearly looked a better team as they showed better co-ordination in releasing the ball quickly and their defenders didn't give the Indians much space to operate.

Ranked highest in the tournament, South Africa scored through Dirkie Chamberlain (12th minute, 32nd, 58th) and Sulette Damons (53rd, 67th), while for India skipper Asunta Lakra (23rd) and Soundarya Yendala (52nd) reduced the margin.

South Africa played a very fast-paced game and attacked the Indian citadel and kept the ball in their half for most part of the match. However, it was India who earned the first chance to score when they earned a penalty corner as early as in the 3rd minute but they failed to materialise it.

Immediately, South Africa, on a counter-attack, earned their first PC but they too failed to make use of the chance. Unperturbed the proteas girls kept pressing for a goal and earned another PC in the ninth minute but once again, they returned empty handed in front of an alert Indian defence.

Dirkie Chamberlain finally put South Africa in the lead when she scored from close range after their first penalty corner strike from Kate Woods was blocked by the Indian goalie Savita. Eleven minutes later, India earned their second penalty corner which culminated into another PC but this time, skipper Asunta Lakra didn't make any mistake and scored on the direct hit as the defenders were found napping.

However, Dirkie once again found the back of the net in the 32nd minute when she slotted home on a rebound after Shelley Russell's hit was stopped by Savita to help South Africa keep their nose ahead 2-1 going into the lemon break.

In the second half, there was plenty of action at both the camps with India earning another short corner in the 37th minute but the hosts failed to convert it. Another opportunity went abegging when Rani's powerful hit got deflected off the horizontal.

In the 47th minute, India earned yet another penalty corner and had almost got the equaliser. It was finally Soundarya who brought India on the even keel, nudging home from close after India tried out a variation in another penalty corner at the 52nd minute.

However, South Africa was prompt to hit back immediately within 30s with Sulette Damons finding the cage with a reverse hit.

The visitors made it 4-2 in the 58th minute with Dirkie completing a hattrict. South Africa clearly looked a more fit team as they kept looking for more gaols and made it 5-2 in the 67th minute when Damons easily got the net after getting a pass from Kathleen Taylor as Indian defence was found napping once again.

With time running out of their hands, India tried to narrow down the margin and made a few shies at the rival post but none of them fructified as they succumbed to their first defeat in the tournament.

Meanwhile, the FIH reiterated its stance on the rebel World Series Hockey and warned that any player or official participating in the unsanctioned event could face a possible sanction.

"We don't want to ban any player or official. This would be our last step but we can't allow players to play in events which we don't recognize," Negre said.

Both Negre and FIH CEO Kelly Fairweather said that the world can't stop a player from participating in any event, but in such a scenario they would compelled to take the hard step.

"Everybody is free to decide what they like but we have our regulations in place," Negre said.

Asked about former India coach Jose Brasa's decision to join the WSH, to begin from February 28, Fairweather added: "It's Brasa's decision. He is free a man. He can do whatever he likes but we have our rules in place and they are very clear. There could be sanctions."

Interestingly, Brasa in a certified FIH master coach and is presently here for the ongoing Olympic qualifiers with the Ukraine women's team as technical advisor.

Negre also said the world body is still hoping for an amicable settlement to the long-standing fed between Hockey India and Indian Hockey Federation.

The FIH president was pleased to see hosts India's performance in the ongoing qualifiers but did not hide his disappointment when asked about the low crowd turn out in the tournament.

"To promote the game and to see India back among the top hockey playing nations, it is important for us (FIH) to organize tournaments in India. I am happy with the performance of both the men's and women's team of India. The men have improved a lot since the 2010 World Cup," Negre said.

"But it is a pity to see empty stands, especially in a country where hockey is a top sport."

Taking a dig at Hockey India on the low turn out issue which is primarily due to high pricing of tickets, Negre said, “Events like this need promotion before its start. We also need to analyze some other things, including ticket prices."