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HWL Semi-Final: Canada upset India to win World Cup berth, Netherlands champions

India squandered several scoring opportunities to go down against Canada in a Hockey World League Semi-Final match for the fifth-sixth places; the Netherlands beat Argentina to win the London leg.

other sports Updated: Jun 25, 2017 23:01 IST
Soumitra Bose
India finished sixth in the Hockey World League Semi-Final after the 2-3 loss to Canada.
India finished sixth in the Hockey World League Semi-Final after the 2-3 loss to Canada.(Getty Images)

India played gracious hosts allowing world No. 11 Canada to outsmart them 3-2 in a Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final classification match and clinch a berth in the 2018 World Cup in Odisha.

In a dramatic contest at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, Canada scored twice in a space of four minutes in the third quarter to clinch the all-important fifth place in the London leg of the Hockey World League Semi-Final, leaving India, sixth in the world, with a lot to ponder about.

Later in the evening, The Netherlands blew away Rio Olympic champions Argentina 6-1 in a one-sided final. The Dutch scored in every quarter never to allow the Argentines a grip on the proceedings.

In front of a packed stadium, all seven strikes in the final were field goals. Valentin Verga (4th and 14th), Thijs van Dam (27th), Robert Kempermann (33rd), Mirco Pruijser (35th) and Thierry Brinkmann (58th) scored for the marauding Dutch. Matias Paredes scored a consolation goal for the hapless Argentines.

Harry Martin scored twice (5th and 28th minutes) from penalty corners as England finished third after beating Malaysia 4-1. David Ames (9th) and Phil Roper (59th) added to England’s tally. Faizal Saari’s deflection in the 53rd minute won Malaysia a consolation goal.

JOHNSTON, CANADA HERO

Gordon Johnston was Canada’s hero, his 44th minute field goal punishing a profligate Indian team that did not show enough determination to win on a cold afternoon.

It was Johnston who drew first blood for Canada in the third minute, but Harmanpreet Singh’s goals from penalty corners in the 7th and 22nd minutes put India in control, but only just.

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Mumbai-born 25-year-old Keegan Pereira’s 40th minute goal stunned the Indians before a mercurial Johnston capped a Richard Hildreth assist with a sizzling reverse hit that won Canada a ticket to the World Cup. India had defeated Canada 3-0 in a group league match earlier in the tournament.

All three goals in the first half came from penalty corners. Johnston converted Canada’s second penalty corner with a rasping flick to the top right corner of the goal. The Indians clearly hadn’t planned for Johnston and probably thought skipper Scott Tupper would take the hit.

Harmanpreet justified the faith coach Roelant Oltmans had on him in this tournament. A clean finish to the right bottom levelled scores and midway through the second quarter, the young dragflicker was on target after captain Manpreet Singh injected the ball for a change.

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India had seven penalty corners (10 in all) before half-time and their inability to capitalise on them only helped Canada regroup and counterattack.

“Full credit to our defenders for denying India the goals. We came out determined as a group and the win is a result of that,” said Johnston in a chat with HT after the match.

India’s desperation to score their third goal came to fore in the last four minutes of the match. Coach Roelant Oltmans withdrew goalkeeper Akash Chikte and added an extra striker but Canada defended well. Jasjit Singh and Ramandeep Singh missed their mark by a whisker and India’s lack of composure under pressure was exposed once more.

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Pakistan finish 7th

World number 13 Pakistan defeated China 3-1 to finish seventh in the eight-team Hockey World League Semi-Final here. The win keeps Pakistan with a good chance of qualifying for the 16-team FIH 2018 World Cup in India.

All four goals in the Pakistan-China match came in the final quarter. Veteran striker Umar Bhutta found his scoring touch with two lovely field goals in the 51st and 56th minutes. World No. 18 China pulled one back in the 58th by Guo Xiaoping but Mohammad Irfan Junior’s 57th minute strike clinched the game for Pakistan.

Pakistan came into today’s first match as the fancied side. They had beaten China 4-0 in October last year and were under pressure to finish at least seventh here. Bhutta’s strikes finally saw the green shirts return with a smile.