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Indian Hockey Team

Need to maintain momentum in knock-out stage: Harendra

Bhubaneswar, Dec 8: Indian hockey team chief coach Harendra Singh on Saturday said they have to continue their current good form in the knock-out stages in order to finish on the podium at the ongoing FIH World Cup.

India thrashed Canada 5-1 to top Pool C at the Kalinga Stadium here on Saturday to bag a direct entry into the the quarter-finals.

They had started their campaign with a 5-0 victory over South Africa before doing well to hold title contenders Belgium to a 2-2 draw in their second match.

“We have been playing well and we need to maintain the game in the quarter final as well to see the medal…to see the colour of the medal,” Harendra said after Saturday’s match.

The Indian coach believes the tone of the tournament will change now that they have reached the knock-outs, and said the team has spent years preparing for this opportunity.

“I think we know who to play in the quarter final. The match will decide whether to win medal or we are far away from the medal,” he added.

Speaking on the match against Canada, Singh said: “We had two targets for the match. One is to top the pool so that we can enter the quarter final. The second was to score 6-0 against Canada. I am happy that we topped the pool and disappointed that we could not finish the game 6-0.”

Indian captain Manpreet Singh said: “We have to be prepared for quarter final, which is a knockout match. This is important for us. Any sort of neglect in the game will cost us dearly.”

India face tough task at hockey World Cup

India face tough task at hockey World Cup

Bhubaneswar, Nov 27: India are expected to face an uphill battle playing in front of the hockey crazy Odisha crowd that will turn up in large numbers to watch the 2018 FIH World Cup starting here on Wednesday.

Despite being the most successful team in Olympic hockey with eight golds, India have won the World Cup only once, way back in 1975.

Despite playing at home, it will be sort of miracle if World No.5 India managed to break this long barren run this time round.

Under current coach Harendra Singh, the Indian team has shown a lot of promise.

Since taking over from previous incumbent, Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne in May this year, Harendra has guided the team to silver at the Champions Trophy, a bronze at the Asian Games and the Asian Champions Trophy title.

Before that, India had finished fourth at the 2018 Commonwealth Games under Marijne’s watch.

This World Cup will feature a total of 4 pools with four teams each.

The pool toppers will get a direct entry into the quarterfinals while the 2nd and 3rd placed will have to go through play-offs to enter the last eight stage.

India have been placed in Pool C along with strong title contenders Belgium and minnows South Africa and Canada.

Pool A contains Argentina, Spain, France and New Zealand.

The hosts will start their campaign against South Africa on the opening day while Belgium will play Canada the same day.

Overwhelming favourites and defending champions Australia are in Pool B along with Ireland, England and China.

Pool D is expected to throw up several mouth watering matches since it includes formidable Germany, another strong contender Holland, four-time winners Pakistan and Malaysia.

Australia, who have won the last two editions, will be chasing an unprecedented third consecutive title.

If the boys from Down Under are successful in their quest, they will win their fourth title and become the joint most successful nation in the tournament along with Pakistan.

The fact that Pakistan have managed to reach India is something of a triumph for the cash strapped team.

Their participation was in doubt till the last moment due to lack of funds. It was only the signing of a major sponsorship deal with Haier Pakistan that enabled their participation.

It’s time to deliver, says India’s vice-captain ahead of hockey World Cup

Bhubaneswar, Nov 18: The preparations are done and it is time to deliver in the tournament that matters the most after a mediocre year, Indian hockey team vice-captain Chinglensana Singh Kangujam said Sunday ahead of the World Cup.

The mega event begins November 28 and will conclude on December 16 at the city’s Kalinga Stadium.

“The past three months in particular has been very challenging for us with the training intensifying as it’s important for us to peak at the World Cup. The team is aware that this year could have been much better for us in terms of results but now is the time to do away with the bitterness of the past performances by doing well at the prestigious event,” said Chinglensana.

Playing in the midfield alongside skipper Manpreet Singh and youngsters Sumit and Nilakanta Sharma, Chinglensana exuded confidence about his team’s prospects.

“Every single player has worked tremendously hard and it is time to convert all that into good results. I believe the World Cup will be a battle of mental strength as much as it is going to be about fitness and team strategies.

“It is an advantage that almost everyone in the team has the experience of playing top-quality matches in the Kalinga Stadium during the Hockey India League and are aware of the atmosphere the fans create here.

“It’s also a plus point to have the Junior World Cup winners who have experienced 20,000 people cheering for them during the 2016 Junior World Cup in Lucknow,” added the Manipur-born player.

Chinglensana, who has so far played 199 internationals, is slated to complete a milestone on the opening day of India’s campaign against South Africa.

“Yes, if everything goes right, I will be playing my milestone match in front of our home crowd and there is no better feeling than completing 200 matches for India in front of the fantastic Bhubaneswar crowd. It is one of my favourite venues in the world. I am looking forward to it and we are all eager to make a positive start,” he said.

S V Sunil
S V Sunil

SV Sunil in serious doubt for hockey World Cup due to knee injury

Bhubaneswar, Oct 11:  In a major setback for the Indian hockey team, star striker S V Sunil has been all but ruled out of next month’s World Cup after suffering a knee injury.

Sunil suffered the ligament injury on his left knee on October 4 during India’s ongoing preparatory camp here.

He will require four to five weeks to recover from the injury, which virtually shuts the door on him for the World Cup to be held here from November 28 to December 16.

Must Read – Indian women’s hockey team goes down to Argentina

“I suffered the injury while diving for a ball during training on October 4. I have consulted specialists here and the MRI revealed it is an Lateral Collateral Ligament injury (LCL) injury,” Sunil told PTI at the Bhubaneswar airport.

“Initially there was massive swelling and then the doctors here said that there appears to be a slight gap in the knee joint,” he added.

Sunil is flying to Delhi on Thursday to consult Hockey India’s official doctor B K Nayak after which his availability for the World Cup will be known.

Read More – Indian women’s hockey team thrashes Vanuatu 16-0

He, however, still remains hopeful.

“I am still hopeful because a week has already passed and recovery from the LCL injury generally takes four weeks. Let’s see what happens. I will get a clear picture tomorrow. But if I can’t play in the World Cup that would be a massive loss for me,” he said.

Eager to win gold at Asian Games, says Rupinder Pal Singh

Eager to win gold at Asian Games, says Rupinder Pal Singh

New Delhi, Jul 24: Boosted by a strong comeback in the three-match series against New Zealand last week, ace drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh says the Indian hockey team is eager to carry forward the momentum into the upcoming Asian Games and win the gold medal.

“Personally for me, playing against a quality team like New Zealand who won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games was very important. Since I had missed out all the action during the Champions Trophy, I had to find my rhythm ahead of the Asian Games in Jakarta,” Rupinder said.

The Commonwealth Games in April was Rupinder’s last appearance for the Indian team at a major International event. A hamstring injury during the quadrennial event meant that he had to be rested for the Champions Trophy where the team finished runners up.

While the team was up against top teams in the world, Rupinder had to remain in the national camp and work on his fitness.

“It is frustrating for any player to be watching the team play on TV but it was critical for me to undergo rehab in order to be match-fit and available for the Asian Games selections,” Rupinder expressed after the 3-0 series win against New Zealand.

In order to gain momentum again, Rupinder appeared in four practice matches against Bangladesh early this month where he scored 10 goals through penalty corners and played two practice matches against South Korea where he scored one goal.

“I think having Bangladesh, South Korea and New Zealand visit us ahead of major tournaments was a blessing in disguise. The team tried out different combinations and tested different variations in converting PC. We also tried new methods of creating PCs where I think the team did well. Our main criteria was to improve goal scoring,” said the 27-year-old from Punjab.

After a successful series against New Zealand, the Indian team has returned home for a week-long break and will re-join the National Camp on August 1. At the Asian Games, Indian Men’s Team is grouped in Pool A with Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Hong Kong China.

In the camp before the team leaves for Jakarta, Rupinder said the team will further work on the specific areas to ensure they have left no stone unturned in their preparations for the Asian Games.

“The one-week break will help us rejuvenate as some of us have been in the National Camp continuously since April 28. When we return to camp, the team will sit together, watch videos from our matches against New Zealand and try and find out ways to improve further. We are eager to defend the Gold Medal at Asian Games in Jakarta,” he concluded.

Ramandeep injury blow for India ahead of Australia clash

Breda (The Netherlands), June 27: Ahead of their crucial FIH Champions Trophy tie against defending champions Australia, the Indian hockey team on Tuesday received a big blow as striker Ramandeep Singh was ruled out of the tournament due to a knee injury.

“Ramandeep complained about a pinch in his right knee at half-time during our match against Pakistan. But when we rested him for Argentina match and took an MRI on Monday, it was revealed that he has sustained a full thickness condral fracture-injury in the centre of his right knee,” chief coach Harendra Singh explained in a release.

Ramandeep had set the momentum for the Indian team in their opening match against Pakistan after he scored the team’s first goal. He had assisted Lalit Upadhyay in the 60th minute of the match as India had marched to a 4-0 victory.

Though the team will certainly miss the services of the experienced forward, Harendra insisted that this setback should not deter his players from winning.

“We will certainly miss him, we missed him against Argentina too. He is an experienced player and the way he creates space and takes shots on goal has worked for the team. Playing high speed hockey with 17 players can get a bit tiring for the players. But that should not be a deterrent in our pursuit to earn a place in the Final,” he added.

In the past two matches, the team showed a distinct hunger to win as they played to strategy, exhibiting aggressive yet structured and disciplined hockey.

“We made some key changes in how we defend and attack during our preparations for this tournament. I think one of the main elements is that our strikers are willing to take that extra risk in the circle knowing well enough that the defenders will support them if by chance they lose the ball,” Harendra said.

“I think this change in attitude made them play freely in the first two matches and defending well was our priority.”

India will have their best opportunity to showcase their potential against Australia, felt Harendra.

“The team has so much more potential and it’s time they stop hanging on to the No.6 spot in the world and surge to the top three. We have always spoken about doing well against the top 5 world ranked teams. I think this is the best chance to show that we can,” Harendra stated.

“Australia are among the fittest teams in the world, they play with a lot of speed like us and are consistent but we need to carry on the momentum we have started with,” he added.

The defending champions are placed second behind India in the pool table after having drawn 3-3 against Belgium and won 2-1 against Pakistan. The match against Australia will be followed by a clash with World No. 3 Belgium on Thursday.

CWG: India’s hockey teams enjoy success on day 4

Gold Coast (Australia), April 8: India’s men’s and women’s hockey teams enjoyed a successful Sunday as they beat their opponents in the pool stages of the 21st Commonwealth Games here on Sunday.

S.V. Sunil’s late goal helped India’s men’s hockey team overcome a lower-ranked Wales with a 4-3 win in a Pool B match while the women staged a late comeback to stun England 2-1.

In the men’s category, Wales’ drag-flicker Gareth Furlong’s hat-trick had threatened India. India were on the verge of playing second a consecutive draw after the Pakistan tie. But Sunil scored off a rebound from a penalty corner with around two minutes to go.

Furlong’s all goals were equalisers for their teams. His first goal came a minute after Dilpreet Singh’s field goal, a drive from the right in the 16th minute, gave India the lead.

India regained the lead through Mandeep Singh’s tap-in off a penalty corner rebound in the 27th minute. Wales took 17 minutes to come up with the equaliser via Furlong, who exposed India’s shortcomings in defending the set-piece.

Harmanpreet Singh scored in his fourth penalty corner attempt in the 56th minute to give India the 3-2 lead with four minutes left for the end of the game. But Furlong struck again past P.R. Sreejesh to make it 3-3 in the following minute.

India again lost composure and focus after scoring a goal which allowed Wales to launch a speedy counter-attack to earn a penalty corner which was poorly defended by Sreejesh and his defence.

However, a minute later, Wales failed to fully clear Harmanpreet’s drag-flick. Sunil’s first attmept was blocked but he got hold of the ball again before hitting at the empty right post to make it 4-3.

“I am happy with the win but not with our performance because we can do so much better than this. Though we were a better team today compared to our first match against Pakistan, we need to play our A game against Malaysia if we want to see ourselves in the semi-final,” said Indian chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.

India has jumped to the second spot in the Pool B with four points — same as top-placed England but behind on goal difference. England played a 2-2 draw against a gutsy Pakistan in the other Pool B match of the day, with the Asian outfit earning a third consecutive draw to be third in the table.

India take on Malaysia in their next match, a team that heavily relies on penalty corners and on a good day can cause an upset win. After a poor conversion rate in penalty corners against Wales, Marijne would want his team to improve on this aspect.

“We cannot miss any opportunity to score and today there were plenty of those opportunities. But I am hopeful the win today will give us a good moment for the next game,” he said.

In the women’s match, England skipper Alexandra Danson scored in the opening minute to put her team ahead right at the start.

India hit back through Navneet Kaur (42nd minute) and Gurjit Kaur (48th) in the second half to claim a hard-fought win.

England were clearly the superior team throughout the game, hogging most of the ball possession and putting the Indian defence under constant pressure with a stream of seemingly endless attacks.

Despite the pressure, the Indian defenders did well to keep the English forwards at bay with excellent organisation and some tight marking.

The Indians tried to hit back with the occasional counter-attack, but struggled to maintain possession inside their opponents’ half.

Despite their dominance, England’s failure to penetrate the stubborn Indian defence proved to be costly.

India reduced the margin late in the third quarter when Rani created an excellent move before picking out Navneet at the top of the English penalty circle.

Navneet produced an excellent finish, firing between the legs of England goalkeeper Madeleine Hinch to sound the boards.

Rani was instrumental in India’s second goal as well as she earned a penalty stroke early in the fourth quarter after being brought down inside the English penalty area.

Gurjit stepped forward to place the ball into the bottom right corner and hand India the lead.

Desperate to salvage the match, England laid siege to the Indian goal, earning their sixth penalty corner.

England manager Maggie Souyave decided on an ultra attacking approach in the final minutes, taking off Hinch for an extra forward.

But the English efforts did not prove to be enough as the Indians bravely held on for the win.

Hockey: South Korea edge past India eves in third match

Seoul (South Korea), March 8: Indian eves slipped to their first defeat of the South Korea tour as the hosts registered a 2-1 victory over the visitors in the third match of the five-match series at the Jinchun National Athletic Centre here on Thursday.

Two goals in the first quarter from South Korea’s Seul Ki Cheon (12th minute) and Yurim Lee (14th) were enough for the hosts as India’s fightback, led by Lalremsiami’s goal in the 16th minute, was not enough on the day.

The win for South Korea means that India still maintain a 2-1 lead in the five-match hockey series with two matches to play.

Earlier in the day, India looked to continue their winning momentum from the first two matches. The eves were quick off the block to put some pressure on the hosts in the midfield as they played with high intensity. However, South Korea were equally commanding in their play as they also found space regularly in India’s striking circle.

The opening 10 minutes of the first quarter saw both teams play with exuberance but it was South Korea who went ahead in the match when Seul Ki Cheon converted a penalty corner in the 12th minute to give her team the lead.

Two minutes later, India’s defence was beaten again through a penalty corner as Yurim Lee continued her goal-scoring form to make it 2-0 in the 14th minute.

Even with the game being balanced in the opening quarter, it was South Korea who ended the first quarter with a two-goal advantage.

India took the field in the second quarter with the intent of making a comeback and were instantly rewarded as forward Lalremsiami found the back of the net in the 16th minute to pull one goal back for the visitors.

The Indian team were threatening to find the equaliser but the hosts’ defence also stuck to their task as chances went in vain with South Korean goalkeeper Heabin Jung making a couple of saves to deny the visitors a second goal before the half-time whistle.

The third quarter of the match saw jitters in both the teams as neither wanted to give the opposing team a firm grip on the game.

It was South Korea who had the better chances of scoring in the penultimate quarter as they were awarded three penalty corners but failed to convert any of them into a goal with goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu making the saves.

In the final quarter, India kept piling on the pressure on the hosts and earned two penalty corners in the last four minutes of the match, but South Korea goalkeeper Heabin Jung made two fantastic saves to deny India a way back as the hosts ran away with a 2-1 victory.

India will play their fourth match on Friday.

India lose to Argentina in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

Ipoh (Malaysia), March 3: India lost 2-3 to Olympic champions Argentina in the opening match of the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament here on Saturday.

Drag-flick star Gonzalo Peillat scored a hat-trick for Argentina, while Amit Rohidas converted two penalty corners for India.

India thrash Japan in 4-nation hockey meet

Tauranga (New Zealand), Jan 17: India got off to a winning start in the double-leg Four Nations Invitational Hockey Tournament, notching a comfortable 6-0 win against Japan at the Blake Park here on Wednesday.

Rupinder Pal Singh (7th minute), Vivek Sagar Prasad (12th, 28th), Dilpreet Singh (35th, 45th) and Harmanpreet Singh (41st) scored in India’s win.

The team got off to a dominant start, controlling the ball rather swiftly, passing around neatly and quickly to penetrate the Japanese circle.

India won their first penalty corner of the game in the seventh minute and it was young gun Harmanpreet Singh who stepped up to drag flick.

His attempt though was blocked by the Japanese defender on the line, but since the obstruction came off his body, India were awarded a penalty stroke.

Experienced drag flicker Rupinder Pal Singh broke no sweat in converting a stunning goal to fetch India a 1-0 early lead.

India’s second goal came in the 12th minute when debutant Vivek Sagar Prasad was quick to pick up a rebound and fiercely strike the ball past the Japanese goal keeper earning India a 2-0 lead.

The second quarter saw India defend their lead as they were unrelenting in creating pressure on Japan, pressing them high up constantly, rarely giving them an opportunity to enter India’s defence.

Meanwhile, Vivek Prasad found another excellent opportunity in the 28th minute to score, as the Indian attackers broke into the Japanese defence.

Vivek was swift to receive an assist in the circle and put the ball in the goal within no time. The teams went into the half time break with India having a comfortable 3-0 lead.

In the 35th minute, a brilliant run-in from Mandeep Singh, who found Dilpreet in the circle, created a goal scoring opportunity for India.

Though Dilpreet’s first attempt was padded away by the Japan keeper, he was quick to pick it up again and put into the nets fetching India’s fourth goal.

Though Japan earned their first penalty corner of the match in the 40th minute, they couldn’t find success however, in the following minute a foot foul by a Japanese defender won India their second PC which was brilliantly executed by Harmanpreet Singh as India led 5-0.

India were in complete control and were playing hockey that had Japan constantly on the back foot.

An outstanding bit of play in the circle, opened up a chance for Dilpreet Singh to shoot from the top of the circle.

His attempt was right on spot taking India’s lead to a formidable 6-0 in the 45th minute. The final quarter saw India giving no room for Japan to score a consolation goal.

India will take on Belgium in their second match on Thursday.

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