Men's Hockey World Cup 2018: India blank Argentina 5-0 in World Cup practice match
Five days before the Indians begin their Hockey World Cup campaign against South Africa, Harendra Singh's boys started with a bang against Olympic champions Argentina in their first practice match.
With goals from Harmanpreet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Dilpreet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, and Hardik Singh, the Indians won with a comfortable 5-0 margin but Chief Coach, Harendra Singh cautioned that the South Americans were still, probably, suffering the effects of jet lag and are yet to come into their own.
"They (Argentina), are still in flight mode and have not recovered as was obvious in the first quarter. Yet, Argentina cannot be written off as they have all the ingredients needed to be part of the World Cup."
The Indian coach was not too happy about his team breaking the structure and stressed that the same was not acceptable.
"We played well in patches - but I am happy we scored the goals, including a PC goal and the other field goals. Sometimes, we broke our structure and Argentina took control, which for me is not acceptable, but the boys have understood this."
It was a great moment for young players like Hardik and Nilakanta to have found the back of the net and Harendra and was emphatic that the goals scored against a team of the calibre of Argentina will do their confidence a world of good.
"Practise matches give you confidence - if you draw or lose, it sets a negative trend, but in this case, the scoresheet (for the opposition) was 0, so it is a positive."
"We tried a couple of things on the field and it really worked. I am happy, especially with the midfielders who created opportunities for the strikers in the opponents half. I think that is what we were looking for."
"The players who stepped on to the World Cup stage for the first time scored, and that will give them a lot of confidence as they did so against the Olympic champions."
India's next practise match will be against Spain on Sunday.
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Argentina and Spain, who are drawn together in Pool A will lock horns on November 29. After facing South Africa next Wednesday, the Indians, who are in Pool C, will be up against Olympic silver medalists and World No. 3 Belgium on December 2.