Even though the 2018 FIH World Cup officially began with the inaugural match between Belgium and Canada, all eyes were set on the match between India and South Africa. Led by Manpreet Singh and coached by Harendra Singh, the spectators were expecting nothing less than an explosive start from the Indian side.
To everyone's delight, India didn't disappoint them either. Playing attacking hockey from the word go, they gave South Africa a run for their money by smashing two goals within the first quarter itself.
By the time the final hooter blared, India had crushed the South African challenge by an outstanding score of 5-0. While Simranjeet Singh scored twice for the Indian team, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay chipped in with a goal each.
Here are five interesting talking points from the match between India and South Africa.
#5 No let-up in intensity till the last second
No matter how brilliant the team looks on paper, the Indian team was once notorious in the late 90s and the early 2000s for crunching down in the dying seconds of any match, which has cost them major tournaments and titles more than once. Who can forget the way India lost a sure shot chance at the podium when they allowed Poland to score a goal at the Sydney Olympics 2000?
However, this time India left no such opportunity for the South Africans in the game. The well disciplined Indian team refused to allow South Africa any significant chance at scoring a goal for their side, keeping the slate clean, a rarity for any host team in the Men's Hockey World Cup.
On the other hand, South Africans looked completely clueless throughout the duration of the match. Not only were they unable to grasp the ball throughout the first half, they also failed to convert whatever chance they had to score a goal, as they failed to convert the three penalty corners that they received.