India men’s team’s matches in SA come to an entertaining end.

Feb 8: India 5-0 France

Feb 9: India 10-2 South Africa

Feb 12: India 2-5 France

Feb 13: India 10-2 South Africa

Harmanpreet Singh (via FIH): ‘We are always talking about the team and that was a team effort. We needed to get back after the France game and think what we could learn and improve upon.

Full time: India 10-2 South Africa: Of course player of the match is Harmanpreet Singh.

Full time: India 10-2 South Africa: Scores repeated from India vs South Africa 4 days back. But that doesn’t tell you how good SA were for most of this match.

Q4, India 10-2 South Africa: GOAL INDIA! Harmanpreet in no mood to give up PC duties, scores his 4th goal of the day and third from a PC.

Q4, India 9-2 South Africa: GOAL INDIA! WOW! What a hit. Hat-trick for Harmanpreet. Best drag flick of the night, into the roof of the net.

Q4, India 8-2 South Africa: PC for India and that really should have been a goal too. Dilpreet tried to set up Mandeep instead of scoring himself. Jugraj’s PC results in another one.

Q4, India 8-2 South Africa: GOAL INDIA! Shamsher Singh this time. SA’s 2nd GK Jones does brilliantly to save an effort from the left flank but the rebound falls to Shamsher with the goal at his mercy. The SA coach, Ewing, looks on as if he can’t just believe the scoreline despite how well his side have played.

Q4, India 7-2 South Africa: A PC is what SA want and they refer, nothing doing say the officials. 6 mins to go. Both teams have lost their referrals.

Q4, India 7-2 South Africa: GOAL SOUTH AFRICA! Connor BEAUCHAMP with a drag flick past Sreejesh and plenty of smiles for SA. They really deserve at least that. Great fight for so much of this match. Powerfully hit to Sreejesh’s left.

Q4, India 7-1 South Africa: GOAL INDIA! Harmanpreet Singh from a penalty stroke, Jarmanpreet was fouled to earn that for India. He is not making a mistake from there. 2nd of the night for him.

Q4, India 6-1 South Africa: India have scored just really gorgeous goals today. The pass from Manpreet in the leadup to Shilanand’s 2nd and India’s 6th was lovely. Akashdeep and Mandeep nearly combine to score another fantastic goal on the counter but the SA keeper pulls off a great save.

Q4, India 6-1 South Africa: GOAL INDIA! This gets harsher and harsher for SA. Manpreet Singh does brilliantly with a cheeky reverse pass to Abhishek, who unleashes a powerful hit that is deflected in by Shilanand for his second of the night.

Q4, India 5-1 South Africa: South Africa were brilliant in that quarter. Had a penalty stroke, put Indian defence under serious pressure from PCs as well as open plays... ...India lead 5-1 (deservingly, because they scored some great goals too). But that’s just... Sport. Another PC for SA at the start of Q4 but India rush well.

Q3, India 5-1 South Africa: Goal INDIA! Oh another brilliant goal that! Abhishek does brilliantly at the edge of the circle down the right, the cut back finds Sumit in space who hits a lovely reverse strike into goal.

Now a green card for Shilanand... just as SA’s expired. 10v11 now.

Q3, India 4-1 South Africa: SA, to their great credit, keep going. They have been wonderful today without the results to show for it. Another huge chance! A good reverse hit just goes wide of Pathak’s goal. Spooner meanwhile is off with a green card.

Q3, India 4-1 South Africa: GOAL! PC for India and Harmanpreet scores. Just a brilliant drag flick. UNSTOPPABLE! When they were under serious pressure, and SA should really have made it 2-3, if not 3-3, India go ahead 4-1.

(scores corrected previously)

Q3, India 3-1 South Africa: INDIA UNDER SERIOUS PRESSURE! A couple of PCs and then scrambles...half chances. India are somoehow hanging on! There might have been a couple of big saves there too.

Q3, India 3-1 South Africa: KRISHAN PATHAK WITH A STUNNING SAVE! South Africa get a penalty stroke and it is referred to by India. No reason to change the decision. India lose the review. But Pathak with a moment of genius to save the stroke. That was no miss!

HALF TIME: India 3-1 South Africa Those two late goals for India completely changes the mood in both dugouts. SA were right in it at 1-1 and even after. They were brilliant for large parts of the match but two stunning late goals have put India in control.

Q2, India 3-1 South Africa: GOAL! India have another with a stunning counterattack. Mandeep puts it away easily but it was started with an absolute stunner of a long ball out of defence (looked like Harmanpreet). No one in defence after the PC for SA. Dilpreet collects it, Mandeep puts it away.

Q2, India 2-1 South Africa: GOAL! India are dealing in long range stunners today. Shilanand Lakra scores his first international goal we are told. Some way to get that!

Q2, India 1-1 South Africa: This is another good phase for South Africa and they have a PC that is well struck. Sreejesh, now in goal, makes a save. Straight at PRS. South Africa have given this a proper go so far! (And that says a lot about India’s overall levels)

Q2, India 1-1 South Africa: SA have had another good phase and it has led to a PC.

Q2, India 1-1 South Africa: A lull in the match it must be said. SA’s Julius is have a brilliant match, winning the ball in crucial spots and carrying it forward at pace. India have Sreejesh back in goal. Oh, and he is called up on to kick the ball away. Big chance there.

Q2, India 1-1 South Africa: India have turned over the ball more times than South Africa (but of course they have had the ball more as well, so). SA getting pegged back now.

De Sousa had received a green card at the end of Q1, he is back on the field for SA now.

Q2 starts: Reid told one of his players, “a bit of 3D” (dribbling with the ball in the air on the stick). He perhaps wants India to outskill SA here.

Q1, India 1-1 South Africa GOAL, INDIA! WHAT A STRIKE! Surender Kumar with a stunning hit from the edge of the circle from the right. No stopping that. Geez, the power. India end Q1 with another chance after that.

Q1, India 0-1 South Africa GOAL, RSA! Oh wow. South Africa lead! Krishan Pathak beaten from PC. This was a very even start to the match (if anything South Africa have had the best chance even before this!) Graham Reid cannot be happy with what he is seeing. Dan Bell scores.

Q1, India 0-0 South Africa: Ryan Julius with a huge chance! Does well to make space evading a couple of tackles, but the shot is wild. Was easier to hit the target there. India rattled as they concede a PC not long after.

Q1, India 0-0 South Africa: CHANCE! Varun with a superb aerial to Nilakanta, he makes space and sets up a chance but it is deflected wide. SA create chances of their own the other end. A very even to start to this match and India cannot be pleased about that.

Q1, India 0-0 South Africa: The PC conversion is still eluding India. Jugraj Singh this time and the drag flick is rushed and defended well.

Q1, India 0-0 South Africa: Manpreet Singh, who is fantastic with referrals, gets it right. India have a PC down the other end.

Q1, India 0-0 South Africa: The PC doesn’t come to anything for India. They struggled from set pieces yesterday, will look for a change today. SA have created a couple of chances of their own. SA are given a PC! This is some start by the hosts too.

A look at India’s starting XI. India defeated South Africa 10-2 a few days back and coach Reid is expecting a response before they fly back to India. Pushback and India have a PC in the first minute.

India coach Graham Reid: We didn’t execute our plans yesterday despite creating chances. To me it is about focus & commitment that determines execution. (on whether they will come out firing) I hope so.

Hello everyone and welcome to our live coverage of Indian hockey as Manpreet Singh and Co continue their campaign in the FIH Pro League. After a 5-0 win against France, a 10-2 win against hosts South Africa, a 2-5 loss against France, India take on South Africa again today. This is India’s last game in the South African leg of the FIH Hockey Pro League.

No. 13 world ranked France toppled the No. 3-ranked Indian side in an exciting 5-2 game in South Africa. While the France defence were outstanding, it was the firing offence that put on a show. India struggled to convert on penalty corners and could only tally from the stroke mark. In the game following, Dennis Warmerdam buried two fantastic goals to lead the Netherlands to a 6-2 victory and pick up Player of the Game honours. The Dutch were in fine form all game, but the South Africans weathered the storm and never backed down, putting two goals in past the mighty Netherlands.

France v India (men) – Potchestfstroom, University of North West (RSA)

It was a very different match up today between the Olympic bronze medallists, India, and a renewed France side. France’s impenetrable defence powered the team to a 5-2 win, after taking Netherlands to a 2-2 tie just days earlier. Victor Charlet lead in scoring with a pocket of set pieces, while Viktor Lockwood, Charles Masson and Timothée Clément also got on the scoresheet. Penalty strokes from Jarmanpreet Singh and Harmanpreet Singh were all India could muster despite 13 penalty corner attempts.

France bench boss Frederic Soyez said before the first game, a 5-0 loss, his team had landed just 48 hours earlier and had just two training sessions. Now we would see the real France.

Following today’s win France captain Gaspard Baumgarten said: ‘After our first game we did a lot of video analysis because a lot went wrong. So, we create a game plan to do better. The most successful part of that game plan was the defence. I think the defence was terrific today.’

After an opening quarter with little offensive action, a long aerial ball sprung Clement on half-field a streak and Amit Rohidas was unable to contain him. The resulting penalty stroke was buried by Charlet to give France the opening goal. India responded within the minute. A brilliant midfield transfer found the stick of Jarmanpreet Singh whose pass intended for Sumit ricocheted off defender Stanislas Branicki’s stick and in to level the game.

It was a fast-paced and energetic third and fourth quarter that included several India penalty corners. The France defensive battery was outstanding with Arthur Thieffry getting a pad on the few chances that did squeeze past the brave and charging Charlet.

France found their go-ahead goal in the 35th minute when Baumgarten’s quick free pass found its way to Lockwood on the left baseline. Lockwood crafted his way through the Indian defence and blasted a tight-angled shot out of the air and through the legs of Sreejesh.

Speaking of his goal, Player of the Match Viktor Lockwood said: ‘It was crazy, I don’t really strike on anything but my reverse, so that was a surprise. We had a difficult first game but now we are in the competition. We brought a lot of energy which made up for lack of prep.’

India seemed to be doing everything they needed to find an equalizer, but their penalty corner unit could not find a way. Charlet ran down three-straight Harmanpreet flicks that lead to France pushing forward for a penalty corner of their own. Clement’s low flick in the 48th minute was effortlessly redirected in by Masson to send panic to the India bench. On India’s 13th penalty corner attempt, a miss trap at the top of the circle sent France on a charging counterattack. Baumgarten earned the penalty corner, and it was none other than Charlet whose rocket of a flick soared over the subbed-in Pathak for a 4-2 France lead. It was chaos for India as a sideline turnover led to a playful passing play between Francois Blaise Rogeau, Francois Goyet and eventual scorer Clement to seal the 5-2 victory.

Speaking ahead of the game, India head coach Graham Reid said that France would be posing a very different threat than in their previous encounter. How right he was. France now enjoy their first three points in the Pro League, while India are left to suffer with their first loss.

(Report by FIH Media)

Screenshots in the blog courtesy: Disney+Hotstar / FIH