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Wobbly Start for Indian Hockey Team at Rio

  • Team India needs to get their act together before they take on the top teams.
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 07:43 IST
India vs Ireland Hockey
India narrowly edged Ireland 3-2 in their first match of the Olympics

A victory in Olympic Games in the first match after twelve years was a welcome start for the Indian men’s hockey team at the Rio Olympics campaign. But one should not read much into this victory as winning against lowly-ranked Ireland was expected. The result of the game will surely keep India on a positive note before going into the tougher matches.

Indian defenders did not have a strong game in the match, conceding nine penalty corners. Ireland were able to convert two of their penalty corners, whereas credit for not converting the other penalty corners goes to the Irish drag-flickers, rather than the Indian defenders; though there was one excellent save from Indian goalkeeper, Sreejesh.

The midfield and forward line of India weren’t on the same page in yesterday’s game. Though India held high possession in the first three quarters of the match, their penetration into the Irish half didn’t give the Irish much scare. India converted three out of their seven penalty corners, but had only six field goal opportunities while most of the other attacks had poor finishes within the circle.

It was anticipated that India will record a comfortable win against Ireland but by the end of fourth quarter they just managed to scrape through the match. The Indian defence looked vulnerable as they conceded six penalty corners including one that was a forced error committed by Raghunath. The midfield looked under pressure, and to put even more pressure on the Indian team, Ramandeep Singh got a yellow card with ninety seconds to go.

Except for Rupinder Pal Singh’s goal fromn a penalty corner on the 48th minute and Ramandeep Singh’s shot at goal, which was saved in 51st minute, India hardly had any other move near the Irish goal in the final quarter. In the final minutes India played defensive hockey by focusing on maintaining ball possession to hold on the 3-2 lead.

The encouraging takeaway for team India was that drag flickers Raghunath and Rupinder Pal got their names on the score sheet, Sardar Singh created some effective moves and effectively played total hockey covering all parts of the field.

The Indian defence needs to pull up their socks before they take on the defending champions Germany on Monday, who are on the hunt for their third successive gold in Olympics. The Germans have a high rate of penalty corners conversions into goals. The Germans started off the FIH Champions Trophy campaign this year a bit rusty but ended up with a bronze – scoring the most number of goals in the tournament. They also topped the points table to win the Six Nation Invitational Hockey Tournament in Valencia just before the Olympics in July, where they beat India 0-4 in a league match.

In the other pool match, Netherlands and Argentina had drawn 3-3.

Published 07 Aug 2016, 10:39 IST
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