Follow all the live action as India take on South Africa in their first match of the Hockey World Cup.
India’s hockey record in the Olympics makes for wonderful reading, but the same cannot be said of their showings at the Hockey World Cup. Their only time atop the podium at the World Cup came in 1975 when Ajit Pal Singh and his men won a hard-fought final against arch-rivals Pakistan. Given that the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar is hosting the 2018 Hockey World Cup, Indian fans will at least be quietly optimistic about their chances of a podium finish.
However, the Indian men’s hockey team has struggled at the tournament since lifting the trophy 43 years ago and have since then failed to even make the semi-finals of the tournament. In the last 10 editions since its maiden triumph in 1975, India’s best performance was a fifth-place finish at the 1992 edition in Mumbai.
Now ranked fifth in the world, Indians would be eager to recreate the magic by at least reaching the semi-finals. But the road ahead won’t be easy. Besides having to go up against powerhouses like two-time and defending champions Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Olympic champions Argentina and a resurgent Belgium, India will fight both home fan expectations and history.
The last time India played a World Cup at home, in 2010 in New Delhi they finished a lowly eighth and going by records, the host nation has never fared well in the tournament. Coach Harendra Singh guided the junior Indian team to the World Cup title in Lucknow two years ago and will be hopeful of achieving something similar this time around. His credentials were questions after India failed to defend their Asian Games title in Jakarta earlier this year and another failure in this tournament will see his job under the scanner once again.
The Indian team for the World Cup is a mixture of youth and experience with seven of the 18 features in the last World Cup. The squad also has youthful exuberance in 19-year-old striker Dilpreet Singh and debutant Hardik Singh. But two notable absentees from the squad are drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh, who has been dropped and striker SV Sunil, who is unfit.
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh, Krishna Bahadur Pathak.
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas.
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (capt), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (vice-capt), Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Sumit.
Forwards: Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Simranjeet Singh.
That’s the end of the game and what a way to start the tournament. India has absolutely hammered South Africa 5-0 in their opening Hockey World Cup game. The real test now will be Belgium. The winner of that game could potentially top the group.
There are seven minutes left and the game is a formality at this point. South Africa have given up and India is simply running down the clock. A goal from either side won’t matter now.
If the third quarter saw India put in a slightly meek performance, the same cannot be said about the fourth quarter. Despite being in command of the game the Indians have played with intent and now win another penalty corner that comes to nothing.
India win a penalty corner right in the beginning of the final quarter that is converted after a bit of chaos by Simranjeet! 5-0 up now and this is an absolute mauling at this stage.
GOAL! The end of the penultimate quarter brings a goal from Lalit Upadhyaya and that is certainly the end of the South African resistance. Lalit’s clever deflection foxes the goalkeeper and the crowd erupts.
GOAL! India finally gets a breather from the relentless South African pressure and they hit back. Simranjeet Singh is provided with a tap-in chance that he does not miss. That is surely the end of the game.
South Africa win a penalty corner and cause enough havoc in the aftermath to get a corner. Sreejesh in goal is being put under a lot of pressure. India needs to keep the ball more.
South Africa finally beginning to put some pressure on India. The hosts have developed a bit of a habit of conceding late goals lately; the fact that the opposition has finally started to attack isn’t a good sign.
Quite a bit of back and forth now but no clear-cut chances being created by either side. Not that India will mind too much at this stage but a third goal would all but ensure an opening win.
The second half hasn’t seen much in the way of action but India does win a penalty corner that eventually comes to nothing. Wasted opportunity to essentially put the game to bed.