The 2018 edition of FIH Men's Hockey World Cup to a rocking start on Wednesday. Hosts India made their statement by thrashing South Africa 5-0 in a Group C match at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
After a cagey first quarter, India scored goals at will with man-of-the-match Simranjeet Singh getting a brace (43', 46'). But it was Mandeep Singh who opened the floodgates for India with a 10th-minute goal. Akashdeep Singh made it 2-0 two minutes later. Lalit Upadhyay scored India's fourth in the 45th minute.
Simranjeet Singh, received the Man of the Match award from the Hockey legend, Ajitpal Singh, for his on field exploits in today's match against South Africa. Simranjeet scored 2 goals as India dominated the game in a meticulous fashion. #INDvRSA #IndiaKaGame #HWC2018 #DilHockey pic.twitter.com/f53a5e1cQS— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) November 28, 2018
All in all, it was a satisfying result for India, scoring three field goals and two penalty corners, despite the absence of experienced drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh.
Earlier in the day, one of the favourites, Belgium escaped with a 2-1 win over 11th ranked Canada. The third-ranked side took the lead in the third minute, thanks to a Felix Denayer goal. Thomas Briels made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute, but Mark Pearson pulled one back for Canada in the 48th minute.
In the next round, on December 2 (Sunday), Canada face off with South Africa, while India take on Belgium.
Tomorrow, in Group A engagements, Olympic champions Argentina will take on Spain (5:00 IST start), while New Zealand face France, who are playing their first World Cup in nearly three decades.
FULL-TIME SCORE: INDIA 5 - 0 SOUTH AFRICA
0' - South Africa got their last chance to score. A PC in the dying minutes, and India reviewed. Stick check, free-hit, and India keep the referral, with 25 seconds left in the match. A scoop from the centre to end the match. And India won 5-0, did it in style.
2' - Carried by Chinglensana in the melee. Then, India got Mandeep running alone with the ball inside the opposing half. He returned the ball back, then some time-killing, probably. Rolling the ball around in the midfield.
3' - Long corner for South Africa, but they ended up defending against a pacy counter-attack. But Austin managed to end Nilakanta's run on the left flank, near the flag.
5' - Going for the glory. Bave play from Chinglensana, but he will rue the attempt on the goal, as there were a couple of teammates waiting for a release. Meanwhile, Rohidas got a medical attention.
7' - Sreejesh was brave to stand up to the barge. Block the shot with his left hand. South Africans are sensing a goal. Amit Rohidas almost made a mess of his defence.
10' - Sumit, what a play. He ended a South African move, promising nonetheless, with brilliant skills. Then, on the counter, Mandeep showed his skills, dodging past three defenders, including experienced Austin Smith.
12' - India are playing a different game. Nilakanta was just denied. South Africans conceded a PC. Despite trailing by five goals, they showed the sportsmanship. Nilakanta's effort was blocked by the goalie. with the ball deflecting, rising to a dangerous height.
14' - Simranjeet Singh got his second of the match, from a botched PC effort.
0' - GOAL! Lalit got the fourth. What a touch. Deft! Akashdeep had a crack, and Lalit deflected, beating the South African goalie.
2' - GOAL! What a team goal. India are three ahead. Counterattack at its best. Simranjit slotted home from a brilliant run from Mandeep. He's been a livewire.
3' - Nqobile Ntuli and Richard Pautz combined well to beat the Indian defence, and won a PC. Birendra Lakra defended on the line. India defended frantically. Corner for South Africa.
4' - Lalit was outdone by Tyson Dlungwana. South Africa almost got a goal. Sreejesh needed some acrobatics to block the attempt. Then, India found themselves attacking their opponents. Simranjit was brilliant on the run, with one hand.
7' - This is getting interesting. India have changed the tactics. It's a waiting game for them. Nicholas Spooner was instrumental in creating a counter attack. Dilpreet tried to physically dominate his marker, but the Indian youngster was too raw for such a duel. Poor on Nilakanta's part. He failed to release a pinpoint pass.
9' - Julian Hykes has been brilliant with his brave runs. And South Africa are gradually getting into the groove.
11' - India taking it slow then, a cross-field scoop. Sumi then released it inside the box, earning India's third PC. Manpreet's injection was failed. Failure in the trap, and Harmanpreet sent in wide after the following play.
Then came South Africa's attack. Sumit was there to track the counter-attack. His clean tackle inside the D was enough to change the course.
13' -Another circle penetration early in the quarter. But the clearance from the South Africans, which reached only the half-line. Hardik Singh, then lost possession, giving the 15th ranked side a chance to have a go at India.
India coach said India failed to keep the momentum in the second quarter. Meanwhile, here's what legendary Dhanraj Pillay has been doing.
When the architect of modern hockey Dhanraj Pillay comes out himself to cheer the men in blue in their opening campaign of the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 against South Africa on 28th November#IndiaKaGame #HWC2018 #DilHockey #INDvRSA pic.twitter.com/bYLs3SKEWk— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) November 28, 2018
1' - Unlike the first quarter, the second quarter has been a tussle between the two sides. South Africa even managed to threaten the Indian defence, but their lack of attempt on the goal is comprising their moves. If they were to break India, a superior side in every sense, will need more attempts.
2' - Sumit was relentless in his chase. Then Hardik, in the centre, created a good move but Nilakanta failed to anticipate the release. Wasted chance.
4' - Akashdeep, one on one, inside the South African half, wasted the chance. He spilt the ball. It was good release from deep inside the India half. And there are rolling subs.
6' - And India's possession percentage has come down to higher fifties. Meanwhile, Manpreet led the defensive line, then creating another attack.
8' - South Africa have started to enjoy a bit of possession. Chinglensana was furious after a stick tackle decision against him.
10' - Lalit failed by his team-mates. A good run, exposing the South African defence. But no backup.
12' - Blistering run from Chinglensana. He then released it for Simranjit, whose' flick resulting in a long corner. India are in complte control of the match.
13' - Indian continued from where they left in the first quarter. But missed another chance to score, a third. from a penalty corner.
1' - India, with more than 85% possession and attacks coming primarily down the centre, it's the mid-fielders who are controlling the match. A good phase for South Africa. They have managed to breach the Indian defence more than a couple of times. They ended the quarter in possession.
2' - GOAL! What a finish from Akashdeep. Dream start. A poacher's goal from the magician. Varun and Simranjit played a one-two in the run-up, then Akashdeep slotted home in the first chance.
12' GOAL! @akashdeeps985 makes it two in favour of India as he uses his poacher's instinct to get to the ball first in a crowded circle and finishes with class.— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) November 28, 2018
IND 2-0 RSA#IndiaKaGame #HWC2018 #DilHockey #INDvRSA pic.twitter.com/n4i30PfVnu
4' - India almost got a second, but South Africa defence turned the defence into an attack. India found themselves scurrying for defence.
6' - GOAL! First review of the match. India demanded referees check it for a Penalty Corner, with Mandeep Singh thick in the action. He thought, there's a block. And India have a PC. Mandeep Singh scored the opening goal. Brave stop from the South African goalie. But Mandeep was there at the right place to slot it home.
7' - India continued their search some brilliant runs. Long way to go in the match, and India will need to first settle down, It's frenetic.
8' - Lalit committed too much, went for the glory, but the angle was too acute from the right flank even for someone like him to breach. The response from the crowd is tremendous, Hockey, the sport is lucky to have found a new home in Odisha.
10' - Simranjit has been brilliant so far. The youngster has managed to stamp his presence with some tactical runnings and also releases.
11' - Mandeep Singh missed a brilliant chance. He failed to connect with the pass from skipper Manpreet Singh. Third good chance for India, wasted.
13' - Good start from the Indias. In the first two minutes, India have penetrated twice inside the opponent D.
National anthems round done. India are in their traditional all blues, while South Africans are in green and yellow stripes.
Minutes away from the start of the second match of the tournament. In the lung-opener, world number three Belgium edged past Canada 2-1. Chinglensana is ready for his 200th international.
Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 opener was a spectacle as Belgium edged past Canada, 2-1 in a fairly contested match.#BELvCAN #IndiaKaGame #HWC2018 #DilHockey pic.twitter.com/cTyhd8xDcc— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) November 28, 2018
The weight of the nation on the young shoulders. Manpreet Singh & Co will need a good win to win confidence, going forward. It's a relatively easy group, but a good start will do wonders. For South Africa, it will be a baptism by fire.
India open their World Cup campaign with a Group C match-up against African champions South Africa. India's lone World Cup triumph came 43 years ago. But this time, a buoyant India with confidence and home support, hopefully, break the drought.
But first, the young team under Manpreet Singh will need to beat the Group C opponents. And their first opponents are South Africa.
Last time, these two teams met, India beat South Africa 5-2 at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. India have won 13 of the last 15 matches. In the same number of matches, South Africa have managed only two wins.
India are ranked fifth, while the Africa champions are 15th. Despite the huge gap in the stature, the match can prove to be a tricky one for India.
India: PR Sreejesh, Krishna Bahadur Pathak, Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Manpreet Singh (C), Chinglensana Kangujam, Shanglakpam Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Sumit, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Simranjeet Singh.
Coach: Harendra Singh
South Africa: Tim Drummond (C), Dayaan Cassiem, Taylor Dart, Tyson Dlungwana, Jethro Eustice, Rhett Halkett, Tommy Hammond, Keenan Horne, Julian Hykes, Gowan Jones, Peabo Lembethe, Mo Mea, Bili Ntuli, Taine Paton, Richard Pautz, Rassie Pieterse, Austin Smith and Nic Spooner
Welcome to our live coverage of the India-South Africa Group C match of the 2018 FIH Men's Hockey World Cup, being played at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine