Hockey World Cup: India trounce hapless South Africa

#dailynews60 November 29: India kicked off their journey in the ongoing 14th edition of the Men’s Hockey World Cup on a winning note as they registered a massive 5-0 victory over South Africa in the second Pool C match here at the Kalinga Stadium on Wednesday.

The attacking mindset, which their coach Harendra Singh had advocated before the start of the prestigious tournament, was visible on the field as the Indian players were not letting the ball slip out of their possession.

After making a steady start, India did not waste much time and scored their first goal in the ninth minute of the match on a penalty corner. Indian defender Harmanpreet Singh took a long drag flick but it was saved by the outstretched hands of the South African goalkeeper. Not letting the opportunity slip out of their hands, forward player Mandeep Singh pounced on the ball to score the first goal for his side.

Just two minutes after scoring the first goal of the match, another Indian forward Akashdeep Singh capitalized on a brilliant defence work by Birendra Lakra and Hardik Singh scoring a beautiful goal from a difficult angle.

India were leading 2-0 by the end of the first half of the match.

In the initial stages of the third quarter, the hosts missed a couple of chances. While Hardik Singh failed to score on a loose ball, Sumit Kumar could not convert a penalty corner into goal.

Nevertheless, India made a dominating comeback as they completely destroyed the winning hopes of South Africa by scoring two back-to-back goals in the 43rd and 45th minute of the match. It was midfielder Simranjeet Singh and forward player Lalit Upadhyay who showed quick reflexes in the field to strike the consecutive goals.

Simranjeet looked unstoppable on the field and continued to tear apart the weak defence of the South African side scoring another goal in the fourth quarter to make it 5-0 in India’s favour. India did not let loose of the ball even in the final minutes of the match. They kept on attacking the opposition’s goal post till the final hooter.

A solid attack, quality defence, and a controlled game helped India register a convincing win over South Africa in their first Group match.

Simranjeet Singh was adjudged Man of the Match, who scored two goals for his side.

India will play their next group stage match on December 2 against Belgium.