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The master tactician Roelant Oltmans patrols resurgent India's victory march to the quarter finals!

Vishal Bhalla
ANALYST
1.09K   //    10 Aug 2016, 09:32 IST
Indian Hockey Team
The Indian team marching towards the quarter-final!

Another day, another cliff-hanger of a match! Such is sport, one day was full of heartbreaks but the next day we have happy faces! It was tense in the dying minutes but India held their nerve as Roelant Oltmans’ team are back to winning ways!

India the more positive and improved side

The disappointment from the previous night’s defeat was not seen anywhere. In fact, the German loss was a good wake-up call. It brought the much-needed focus in the team as they knew they had to defeat Argentina to assure themselves of a quarterfinal spot. The players were neither looking tired or dejected and approached the game right from the word go.

India started positively with SV Sunil beginning the proceedings with a trademark run and earned India the first penalty corner which was scored by an unlikely Chinglensana in the 8th minute!

At the end of the half, Manpreet's yellow card and the resulting 5-minute suspension was uncalled for, as his tackle was not intentional. It could have been a foul worthy of a green card at the most. Perhaps, the referee wanted to stamp his authority on the game after a couple of green cards that were already dished out to the Indians. Luckily for India, the Argentines didn’t make the extra man advantage count.

There were several mispasses from Argentina in the final third and the Indians managed to easily block and steal the ball from all of their attacking moves. India totally dominated the first half but were pegged back a little in the third quarter. What followed next was an edge of the seat thriller!

Shift in momentum

In the last quarter, it was Argentina all the way as predicted, Piellat scored one low, beating Sreejesh. India was on the defensive after conceding the goal in the initial minutes. But what followed suit was the “Battle of the referrals”!

It started off with an excellent referral taken by Raghunath as the ball had hit his hand and not on his foot from a Piellat penalty corner. The Argentines came all out immediately, and again due to some nervous defending earned one using their referral. Sreejesh saved it again but India lost the referral in the process with 7 mins left on the clock.

Sreejesh thwarted as many as five shots belted at him to deny the ace drag-flicker from scoring any further. At one point of time, it was around 5 minutes that the ball had not moved an inch outside India’s circle.

But finally, India got some respite as the defenders hooked clear the ball. Nikkin stealing the ball in the dying minutes, only for the lone man Sardar Singh to hit it on the pads of the on rushing goalkeeper. Akashdeep also intervened and wriggled his way through the midfield only to scoop wide of the goal.

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Some unlikely supporters in the crowd, Youth Affairs and Sports minister Dr. Vijay Goel was one of the attendees.

Who won the key battles, then?

India’s wall Sreejesh had a good day as he conceded one and saved many from Gonzalo Piellat. Harmanpreet Singh and VR Raghunath checked the runs of both Lucas Vila and Agustín Mazzilli and also helped to initiate attacks. Moreover, India’s midfielders proved to be more competent than their counterparts.

The unsung heroes of the team

It was redemption time for these unsung heroes of the team. Chinglensana, who is often unoticed is a quiet and hardworking player. The ball advertently fell to him during the penalty corner, much like a variation and he latched onto it. India were doing well in their attacks that even Kothajit joined the party and deservedly scored the second goal. It is good to see players from the North-east shining and taking centre stage by scoring goals. It will definitely give a boost to hockey in this region.

Kothajit Singh
Kothajit in action, moving past two players with ease!

The real hero of the match was Roelant Oltmans. India are not just a team now but a team where every player can adapt and play in any position! This transformation was initiated by head coach and the high performance director. This victory as much as it is earned by Chinglensana or Kothajit or in fact by the entire team, is credited to Oltmans, too.

It speaks volume of the all round development of the squad when you see players from unlikely positions turn the match right on its head! India require this even more so, as the forwards are lacking in form. To pick yourselves so quickly after a earth shattering defeat the previous day, shows the mental toughness of the team. And this sense of belief, tactics and strategy has been instilled by Roelant in the team.

A look at the other matches

India swapped positions with Argentina to move third in the table. Germany won against the Irish side who had equalized at halftime and put up a spirited show. Netherlands won against the lowly Canada in the other match of the group. The points table as of 9th August is as below.

Group B

Pos

Team

Pld

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Pts

Qualification

1

Germany (A)

3

3

0

0

11

5

+6

9

Quarter-finals

2

Netherlands (A)

3

2

1

0

15

3

+12

7

3

India

3

2

0

1

6

5

+1

6

4

Argentina

3

1

1

1

7

6

+1

4

5

Ireland

3

0

0

3

4

11

−7

0

 

6

Canada

3

0

0

3

3

16

−13

0



Next up India takes on the Dutch side on Thursday 11th August. India’s resurgence has just begun, world you better watch out! Watch this space for more analysis on the next encounter.

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