Indian men’s hockey team landed in Brazil after some good results and determined to banish the last-place finish at the London Olympics. On Saturday, their opening Pool B fixture against unfancied Ireland should have been a statement of intent.
The eight-time champions won alright but the 3-2 scoreline, after twice letting the opposition come within a goal of forcing a draw leaves them with plenty of work and reorganisation to do before they face defending champions Germany next on Monday.
India were the better team initially and penalty-corner expert V Raghunathan put them ahead in the 15th minute. Rupinder Pal Singh converted two more penalty corners (27th min, 49th min), but failing to score a field goal against Ireland would cause some concern.
Although India were the better team in the first two quarters, they seem to lose the edge in the second part of the game as the robust Ireland players pushed forward. John Germyn (45th) and Conor Harte (56th), the latter scoring a field goal, saw some panic in the Indian ranks but they held on.
The pool also has Netherlands, silver medalists in London, Argentina as well as Canada.
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India’s first real scoring chance came in the last minute of the first quarter when they earned their first penalty corner but their variation didn’t work and from the resultant build-up Ramandeep Singh’s effort was saved an alert by David Harte in front of Irish goal.
Then just a second from the end of the first quarter India earned three more back-to-back penalty corners, the last of which was ably converted by VR Raghunath with a powerful low flick to the right of the Irish goalkeeper.
Seven minutes into the second quarter Ireland had their first scoring chance when they secured a penalty corner and John Jermyn scored from the opportunity but the goal was disallowed as the push was not stopped properly.
With Agency inputs