Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup : India starts with a flattering win
The host India made an impressive start by making short work of Africa champions South Africa in pool C of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup at Kalnga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. India won 5-0 after leading 2-0 at the half time.
Also Read: Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2018
Earlier, Belgium beat Canada 2-1 in a well contested opening game of the tournament.
India could not have asked for more on the opening day of the competition as its forward line and defence put up a good show in front of the nearly packed stadium.
A brace by Simranjit Singh and goals by Mandeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Lalit Kumar must have come as a great morale booster for the home team looking for its first ever World Cup medal on its soil.
After a barren second quarter, India were under pressure for a while when South Africans mounted pressure. In the third quarter, South Africans forced their first penalty corner. But a counter attack that followed saw Simranjit Singh taking Indian lead to 3-0 with a neat placement. A minute later when Akashdeep worked out a move and left a sitter in the striking circle, Lalit made no mistake to make it 4-0.
In the opening minute of the fourth and final quarter, when India got its fourth penalty corner, Simranjit Singh was there again. This time he pounced upon the rebound to score his second goal in two minutes and fifth goal for India.
First penalty corner came in the ninth minute when Mandeep was blocked. While goalkeeper padded rising flick from Harmanpreet, Mandeep took charge and slammed the ball home for the first goal for the home team. Three minutes later it was the turn of young Akashdeep Singh to find the target with a neat deflection.
Of 11 games against South Africa, India has won six and drawn four. The only loss was in the last classification game for 11th and 12th position in London where India lost 2-3. It was 200th international cap for K. Chinglensana of India.
Man of the match: Simranjit Singh