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Hockey World Cup: India hammer Canada 5-1 to book quarterfinal berth

India scored four goals in the fourth quarter through Chinglensana Singh (46th minute), Lalit Upadhyay (47th, 57th) and Amit Rohidas (51st) after Harmanpreet Singh gave home team the lead in the 12th minute.

other sports Updated: Dec 08, 2018 22:14 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Hockey World Cup,World Cup Hockey,HWC 2018
India's Amit Rohidas (R) celebrate after scoring a goal against Canada during the field hockey group stage match between India and Canada at the 2018 Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar on December 8, 2018.(AFP)

There is something Harendra Singh and his coaching staff must be telling the Indian team during breaks that turns them into a different unit altogether. It was seen during the Belgium game when they looked down and out but making a comeback to draw 2-2 last Sunday. And it was seen yet again on Saturday when the hosts eventually thrashed Canada 5-1 to earn a direct ticket to the World Cup quarter-finals.

But unlike what the scoreline suggests, India did not look like a top team for three quarters of the match. It was only in the last quarter with the score 1-1 that the world No.5 outfit really came into their own to punch in four goals in a span of 11 minutes to outrightly top Pool C.

By virtue of the win and after Belgium crushed South Africa 5-1, India top Pool C with seven points like the Red Lions but a superior goal difference saw the hosts enter the last-8 directly. Second placed Belgium and third placed Canada will have to tread the crossovers as South Africa was knocked out.

India got quite a few chances at the start but could not convert them until the 12th minute when Harmanpreet Singh finally got the monkey off his back to finally convert a penalty corner with a grounded flick to his left, scoring his first goal of the tournament.

But there began a dull period where Canada matched every step. The North Americans put in all their resources in defending and when the moment arose, they attacked.

Perhaps India also were content with a 1-0 lead, knowing it would be enough for a last-8 entry which is why they did not press more.

Skipper Manpreet Singh was in top-form unlike the rest of his team and despite not being in the best of health, creating chances for the forwards.

World No.11 Canada too kept trying and did not let go despite Iain Smythe (green) and James Wallace (yellow) being carded in the third quarter. But Wallace made his presence felt immediately after his five-minute suspension as he fed a superb ball to Floris van Son (39th), who only had India ‘keeper PR Sreejesh to evade before putting the ball in.

The impact showed. India appeared deterred and under pressure. Canada started making more penetrations with Sreejesh barking out instructions to his defenders.

Then came the all-important break before the final 15 minutes. Harendra was giving out instructions to the team, which returned a different unit.

Within seconds of the whistle, Kothajit Singh created the ball of the match, dodging three defenders to strike the ball. It hit goalkeeper Antoni Kindler’s leg, rebounded, went straight to vice-captain Chinglensana Singh (46th) whose strike put India ahead 2-1.

Canada were rattled as India parked themselves in the opponents’ half. Man-of-the-Match Lalit Upadhyay (47th) soon poached a ball and made it 3-1.

India got another penalty corner four minutes later which was taken by local boy Amit Rohidas, who converted not by a drag-flick but by a strike, not seen much nowadays.

Canada were reduced to 10 men in the last five minutes with James Kirkpatrick getting a yellow. India made full use of it as Sumit passed the ball to Lalit, who was waiting in an empty goal to make it 5-1 for India.

“The actual tournament starts with the next game. We are missing the final pass while running for the goal. We have to wait for our moment, can’t rush towards the ball. The first half, we did too much running. The final execution, we were too much in a hurry… the childish instinct inside, we have to throw it out. That is what we spoke about at the break,” said Harendra.

“We have to do our homework. We are running for the ball. I want the players to tackle irrespective of their position. It wasn’t a clean-sheet which we wanted. I feel bad about it.”

First Published: Dec 08, 2018 21:11 IST