The Indian Men’s hockey team continued their winning form at the on-going 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2019 as they beat Canada 7-3 in a high-scoring match on Wednesday.
With this win, the Indian team has topped the pool with 10 points from three wins and a draw. Later, Korea defeated hosts Malaysia 2-1 to join India on 10 points. With one group stage fixture left, the two Asian powerhouses confirmed that they will face off in the final. So far, India and Korea are undefeated and their only draw was against each other.
Striker Mandeep Singh starred in India’s win with a brilliant hat-trick – with the goals coming the 20th, 27th and 29th minute. Varun Kumar opened the scoring for India in the 12th minute with a superb conversion following a penalty corner and Amit Rohidas scored the team’s fifth goal in the 39th minute through another PC.
Youngsters Vivek Sagar Prasad and Nilakanta Sharma contributed to the scoreline with splendid field goals in the 55th and 58th minute respectively. For Canada, Mark Pearson (35’), Fin Boothroyd (50’) and James Wallace (57’) scored the goals.
India displayed better structure and discipline as they took on an unpredictable Canadian side, whom they had beaten 5-1 in the group stage at the 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar.
With their attacking mindset, India put the opponents on the back-foot early in the match. A quick circle entry by Sumit Kumar Jr resulted in the team winning a penalty corner in the 12th minute, which was converted by Varun Kumar.
The second quarter was no different as India built on the early momentum and made fierce circle entries.
Sumit Kumar Jr once again created a fine opportunity and his good pass meant that Mandeep Singh who simply had to deflect the ball into the post, giving India a 2-0 lead.
Midfielder Kothajit Singh followed it up with a brilliant assist to Mandeep from the 25m mark, who made no mistake and sent it past Canada’s goalkeeper Antoni Kindler.
Mandeep and Sumit set up yet another fine goal for India that took the team’s total to a strong 4-0 ahead of half-time.
India controlled the game with good ball possession and tactful play however an infringement by an Indian defender gave away Canada’s second PC in the 35th minute. Mark Pearson ensured the opportunity was not lost as he put the ball past India goalkeeper Krishan Pathak with a powerful flick.
The goal did not deter India from going forward though. Amit Rohidas’s goal in the 39th minute helped India take a 5-1 lead going into the final quarter which saw a goal-fest with both teams scoring two goals each.
India’s Mandeep Singh was awarded the man-of-the-match for his efforts in the forward line.
On Thursday, India will take on Poland at 13.35 hours IST.
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