Indian men continue from where junior men left at Salalah

After Junior men, now Indian men are on winning ways

Team Parvasi – Inside

In less than 24 hours of India wresting the AHF Hockey Junior Men Asia Cup title in Salalah, Oman, Indian senior men took their turn on Friday to warm up cockles of hearts of their fans back home with an emphatic 5-1 win over defending Olympic champions Belgium in FIH Pro League in London.

The win, the first for India overseas in the current edition of the FIH Pro League, has been one of the biggest against one of the world’s top teams for the past several years.

Visiting India turned the tables on Belgium in its return game of the FIH Hockey Pro League encounter in London after getting defeated 1-2 in the first encounter last week. The win has become all the more credible as the Olympic champions brought back of several of their more established stars back into the fold.

China’s women produced a thrilling ending to their match against Great Britain, scoring two goals in the final 11 minutes, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the home side from claiming the win.

 In the men’s game, India raced into an early lead, taking just 90 seconds to find the back of the net. Vivek Prasad ran onto the ball at the top of the circle with his powerful strike beating Belgian keeper Loic van Doren.

The Indians then doubled their lead in the second quarter. All-time top FIH Pro League goal scorer Harmanpreet Singh took care of business off a penalty corner, dragging it into the bottom left corner. Harmanpreet, after a bad World Cup, has been back in form.

There was much more to come from the Indians in the first half. With two minutes to go to the break, Mandeep Singh made a great attacking run along the baseline, playing it back through the middle to Amit Rohidas whose reverse stick shot deflected into goal off Van Doren.

Indians were not done yet, though. Another penalty corner saw India adding a fourth unanswered goal after Amit’s initial drag hit Belgian defender Victor Wegnez on the feet, and Harmanpreet was on hand to slot in the rebound.

The Belgians managed to build more pressure and create several opportunities in a stronger second half. They finally made the breakthrough at the start of the final period, William Ghislain being rewarded for a good game by finally getting the better of keeper PR Sreejesh.

But the Indians had the final say. Dilpreet Singh drilled it through the keeper’s legs to restore India’s four-goal lead and secure new coach Craig Fulton his first victory – against his former team no less.

Manpreet Singh  who was named player of the match said: “We feel fantastic because the boys played a really good game and showed their potential. We talked about last weekend where we were lacking in the last two games and didn’t score enough goals. But today everyone played really well and that’s why we scored five goals.”

 Like the Indian men had done against Belgium earlier in the afternoon, the Great Britain women took the lead  against China in the opening minutes of the match.

A well-worked penalty corner saw Giselle Ansley pass to Lily Owsley on the right post who slotted it in for the 1-0 advantage.

Just a few minutes later, GB were on the attack again, a good team effort seeing Isabelle Petter flipping the ball up for Hannah Martin to slap it into goal to double its lead – all within the first four minutes of the match.

The Chinese managed to pull one back five minutes later after being awarded their first penalty corner, which led to a stroke. Gu Bingfeng found the bottom right corner to become top goal-scorer in the tournament so far with seven in total.

GB scored another goal before half time, Sarah Jones working it in well at the top of the circle to find Sarah Robertson at the back post who made it 3-1.

The home side were awarded another penalty corner in the third quarter with Ansley dragging it towards goal and Martin finding the deflection.

Chinese keeper Ye Jiao injured her knee in her effort to save the shot and had to leave the pitch in a wheelchair.

Having regrouped, with just over 10 minutes to go, Lee Hong produced a lovely run along the goal line to fire it in, the ball popping up for Zhang Zindan to swat it in and reduce the deficit to two. The gap was down to just one less than a minute later after Zou Meirong’s deflection off a penalty corner found its way into the goal off GB defender Ansley’s foot.

That made for an exciting final period with China pushing for the equaliser. But a first victory of the mini-tournament was not to be as GB held on for the 4-3 win.

Giselle Ansley was named player of the match and said: “That was a good game from everyone today, intense at the end but I’m really pleased that we could still hold it out and win that game… I know we conceded three but to score four goals, we’re chuffed with that.”


Prabhjot Singh


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