The Indian men’s hockey team scripted stunning 7-5 and 35-1 wins over Malaysia and Japan respectively at the men’s Asian Hockey 5s World Cup Qualifier in Salalah, Oman, on Thursday.
In the second game of the night against Japan, Maninder Singh (1’, 3’ 5, 6’, 9’, 15’, 20’, 24’, 25’, 29’), Mohammed Raheel (3’, 4’, 11’, 12’, 17’, 26, 26’), Pawan Rajbhar (2’, 6’, 10’, 13’, 23’), Gurjot Singh (12’, 20’, 21’, 27’, 30’), Sukhvinder (4’, 8’, 16’, 22’), captain Mandeep Mor (18’, 23’, 29’), and Jugraj Singh (15’) were on target for India. For Japan, Masataka Kobori (29’) scored the sole goal in the match.
It was a fiery start from India as seven goals were struck by the side led by Mor within five minutes. Maninder, Rajbhar, Raheel, and Sukhvinder all found the back of the net to help India take a 7-0 lead early on. The goalfest continued with Maninder and Rajbhar scored consecutively to add more goals for India, while Sukhvinder also scored his second goal of the match to help his side take a 10-0 lead.
Japan’s defence was stunned early on and found no answer to Indian attackers as Maninder and Rajbhar continued to score easily. Raheel found the nets twice while Gurjot also added his name to the scoresheet as well. Along with Rajbhar and Maninder, Jugraj scored at the end of the first half to give India an 18-0 lead into half-time.
India continued to dominate in the second half with Sukhvinder and Raheel adding early goals to consolidate India’s lead at 20-0. Mor joined in on the action and added a goal for his side as Japan struggled to find ways to put a halt to India’s relentless attacks. Maninder and Gurjot scored three quick goals, while Sukhvinder added another one in the next minute to further extend India’s lead to 25-0.
A minute later, Rajbhar and Mor added a couple of more goals, after which Maninder scored twice to put more pressure on Japan. Japan’s captain Kobori added a late goal for his side but it was too late for any kind of comeback, and with Gurjot scoring the final goal of the night, India won the match 35-1.
Earlier in the day, India won a thrilling affair against Malaysia that went right down to the wire.
Through Gurjot (7’, 11’, 17’, 29’ 30’) scoring five goals, and Maninder (12’) and Raheel (21’) getting a goal each, India won 7-5. Malaysia saw goals from Arif Ishak (6’), captain Ismail Abu (7’), Muhamad Din (8’), Kamarulzaman Kamaruddin (26’), and Syarman Mat (30+’).
The match started on a cagey note with both teams playing cautiously in the early minutes of the match. The hold was broken by Ishak and Abu scoring back-to-back goals for Malaysia, Immediately afterwards, Gurjot pulled one goal back for India. Din scored Malaysia’s third goal in the next minute, but Gurjot and Maninder scored late to go into half-time with the scores levelled at 3-3.
In the second half, Gurjot found the back of the nets with a powerful stroke to put India ahead for the first time in the match. Malaysia found themselves on the backfoot and Raheel made the most of the troubled defence, scoring another goal for India. Kamaruddin managed to pull a goal back for Malaysia, but quick goals from Gurjot decided the fate of the match. Mat scored a goal in injury time, but it was not enough to change the result and India won 7-5.
With two big wins on the day, India managed to finish in the second position in the Elite pool table with 12 points, and earned direct qualification for the semi-finals.
India will next play in the second semi-final match of the tournament on September 2 at 1:30PM IST.
The men’s Asian Hockey 5s World Cup Qualifier will be live streamed on https://www.youtube.com/@AsianHockeyFederation