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India enter final of Four Nations hockey tournament, to face Belgium

India were boosted by goals from Haramnpreet Singh, Dilpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh as they defeated hosts New Zealand to enter the final where they will take on Belgium.

other sports Updated: Jan 20, 2018 11:11 IST
HT Correspondent/Agencies
HT Correspondent/Agencies
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indian national hockey team,Four Nations Tournament,Harmanpreet Singh
India will be eyeing revenge against Belgium in the final of the Four Nations tournament after losing 0-2 to them in the league stages.(HT Photo)

Indian Men’s Hockey Team beat hosts New Zealand 3-1 in the final round robin match in the double-leg Four Nations Invitational Tournament at Blake Park, Tauranga on Saturday to enter the final. They will square off against Belgium, who beat Japan 4-1. Harmanpreet Singh (2’), Dilpreet Singh (12’) and Mandeep Singh (47’) scored in India’s win after the team and they will be eyeing revenge in the final after having suffered a 0-2 loss against Belgium in their previous match.

India played aggressively right from the start. Their first breakthrough came as early as the second minute of the match when a circle entry fetched them a PC created by Mandeep Singh. It was Harmanpreet Singh who stepped up for the drag flick and he was impeccable and fierce as he improvised the injection to flick the ball past New Zealand goal keeper Richard Joyce and earn India 1-0 lead. The early goal undoubtedly put the Black Sticks on the backfoot.

The next few minutes saw India hold their defence with Rupinder Pal Singh, who was rested for the match against Belgium, leading the charge of defenders as their man-to-man marking was spot on, not allowing New Zealand to make easy forays into India’s circle. India colt Dilpreet Singh, who had scored two goals in his first outing for the national side, was impressive when he picked up the assist to put the ball past the New Zealand goal post in the 21st minute taking India’s lead to a comfortable 2-0.

India held on to the lead with well-rounded performance. Though India conceded a PC in the 42nd minute which was well-executed by New Zealand’s Kane Russell, India didn’t drop their momentum and continued their attack swiftly and tactically.

In the 47th minute, Mandeep Singh was excellent in the circle to score an impressive goal to earn India a winning score-line of 3-1. “We started the match much better today and I saw individual improvement. It’s important for the players to keep pushing themselves. I am particularly happy about today’s win because the team did a lot of analyzing ahead of the match and their keenness to improve was evident in today’s match,” expressed Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne after the match.

On his thoughts about playing Belgium on Sunday, the 43-year-old Dutchman said, “This tournament is about improving our play and we already played a good match against a full-strength Belgium side so the Final will be challenging too. But every match, this team has shown progress and have gotten better with performance so in the Final too we can expect a close contest.”

India will take on Belgium in the final at 06.30 hrs IST on Sunday.

First Published: Jan 20, 2018 11:08 IST