India defeated South Africa with a crushing 5-0 to face Belgium next.
India put up an authoritative performance in their inaugural match with a 5-0 win over South Africa in a Group C encounter to kick-start their Hockey World Cup campaign in style.
India’s star midfielder Simranjeet Singh scored a brace with support from Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay to propel the hosts to a 5-0 scoreline against their African opponents.
The first quarter would probably have been an overwhelming affair for South Africa, who are placed 15th in the world rankings, especially after witnessing the outstanding support the home side received at Kalinga Hockey Stadium. In fact, the elephantine roar surrounding the entire arena matched with the swift pace of India’s attack was too much for the visitors to handle. As a result of this ambience, South Africa conceded two goals.
The first of the two that came in the 10th minute was a classic Mandeep Singh goal. Initially, after finding the South African defender’s foot to earn a penalty corner for his team, the feisty forward pounced and scooped the ball over the goalie after Harmanpreet Singh’s drag-flick was parried away by the outstretched hand.
The second goal was created as a result of two very good passes being exchanged. From just outside the 25-yard line, Varun Kumar passed the ball to Simranjeet Singh. The latter decided to make a quick-witted deflection towards Akashdeep Singh in front of the goal. Akashdeep, who had already seen Pieterse dive to his right, simply tapped the ball in the opposite direction of the net to double the host’s lead within two minutes.
It goes without saying that India could very well have gone on to many more goals, only let down by wasteful finishing. Nonetheless, they kept on diligently creating more chances and stretched the South African side as much as they could.
The half-time break came as a big relief for the South Africans, giving them a chance of reconsidering their strategies. In fact, they played their best hockey of the match at the start of the third quarter. Having gained the majority of the possession, they had started to put the pressure on the hosts and sensed a come-back.
But the next 10 minutes that followed shattered any such hopes. In the 42nd minute, Mandeep zoomed along the right flank and exquisitely passed the ball to Simranjeet from near the baseline. Simranjeet has just left the job of slotting the ball past the keeper, a job he did with relative ease.
In the 46th minute, Akashdeep went on to score once again after Lalit Kumar Upadhyay was successful in hitting the fourth goal for India.
Next, India will take on the mighty World No. 3 Belgium in the match of the group on Sunday. Earlier, the Europeans had defeated Canada by a slender margin of 2-1.
— Parminder Singh Brar (@PSBrarOfficial) November 28, 2018
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