India Set Targets High For Semi-Finals

Roelant Oltmans India hockey Indian Express

India will begin their campaign against Scotland on Thursday

The battle for men's World Cup qualification has started in London, with 10 of the top teams in world hockey participating in the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final between June 15-25.

Saini, who represented India at two successive Olympic Games - 1996 in Atlanta and 2000 in Sydney, has previously worked with the junior women's squad in 2016 and under his tutelage the U-18 Indian women's team had won a bronze medal at the U-18 Asia Cup held in December a year ago.

Gonzalo Peillat struck the opening goal of the match after 26 minutes of play, but South Korea eventually pulled level through Lee Namyong. But Gonzalo again converted a penalty corner in 53rd minute to earn victory for his side.

Captain Chris Grassick had given the Scots an early lead by finishing off a well-worked move. It was a baseline pass by Kenny Bain picked up by Grassick perfectly to stun the Indians.

Two opportunistic strikes from Ramandeep Singh in the second half steadied the Indian side and put the game in perspective. India's marquee midfielder Sardar Singh was in the center of action with some impressive dribbling, trying to make space in the circle.

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But unfortunately, the Indian forwards were kept from equalizing by a determined Alexander who continued to impress with his saves. A minute later, Akashdeep beat Alexander in goal when receiving a low-whipped cross from the right, but his deflection went wide of the target. A ideal deflection by Ramandeep earned India a much-needed 2-1 lead. In the 40th minute, Manpreet Singh whipped in a ball from just beyond the centre-line, and Akashdeep timed his run to perfection to dink the ball past Alexander.

In the 42nd minute, a clever-thinking Sunil's appealed for video referral that saw India win their first PC of the match.

The two quick goals allowed India to play a more settled game.

India won their first penalty corner in the 42nd minute and young drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh scored with a powerful shot to the top corner of the goal. India's young goalkeeper Akash Chikte too held his nerve to ensure India walked away with a 4-1 win.

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