There has to strange Harendra Singh and his halftime talks. After all, India have shown so many improvements after coming off from the breaks. Take the Belgium game for example. The European team was leading going into the halftime. But India was a different unit post break as they scrapped a 2-2 draw out of the jaws of defeat.
This game was no different. The hosts scored as many as 4 goals to thrash Canada by 5-1. With that, the team also sealed direct qualification for the World Cup quarter-finals.
Nonetheless, in sports, numbers may be misleading. India looked anything but a top team in the first three quarters. In fact, they were somehow keeping pace with their North American opponents at 1-1. They scored the four goals within a span of 11 minutes. India have now garnered 7 points in the Pool C to top the group outrightly.
In the first quarter, India did get few chances. However, they failed to convert them until 12th minute. Then, Harmanpreet Singh got the glorious chance of converting a penalty corner and he did the needful with a grounded flick to his left. This was his first goal of the tournament.
However, that was the only positive part of the first three quarters as Canada soon caught up and the game turned dull. The North Americans put all they could behind defending and attacked confidently when the moment arose.
Probably India too were content with the 1-0 lead, knowing the result would be enough to secure the last-8 entry.
Captain Manpreet Singh was in good form of his team. In spite of not being in the best of health, he created valuable chances for the forwards.
Canada resiliently kept trying to score a goal past India. It was James Wallace who made his presence felt after the five-minute suspension when he fed a fabulous ball to Floris van Son. Son only had the Indian keeper PR Sreejesh to beat and he did the exact thing.
That goal seemed to have a positive impact on the Canadians as they attacked with more ferocity. India appeared nervous and under pressure.
Just when Canada had started to show signs of revival came the decisive break before the final quarter.
Within seconds of the play, Kothajit Singh produced the ball of the match and dodged 3 defenders before striking the ball. The ball rebounded off goalkeeper Antoni Kindler’s leg going straight to vice-captain Chinglensana Singh whose sublimely buried the ball to put India 2-1 ahead.
Canada seemed rattled and India took full advantage of this fact. Lalit Upadhyay poached the ball after a few moments and made the score 3-1.
Local boy Amit Rohidas scored the fourth goal before Lalit came to haunt Canada again to make it 5-1 for India. The result meant India are into the quarters irrespective of the other results.