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SportHockeyIndia jolt Argentina in men's hockey league at Tokyo

India jolt Argentina in men’s hockey league at Tokyo

Published: 30th Jul 2021 12:02 am | Updated: 29th Jul 2021 10:24 pm

Hyderabad: India made a massive statement with an important 3-1 win over Olympic champions Argentina to register the third victory from four matches in Group A hockey league match on Thursday in Tokyo Olympics. With this magnificent win, India, who are second in the points table of Group A, sealed the quarterfinal berth. India meet Japan in their final pool match on Friday.

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It was a rude jolt when they lost 1-7 to Australia. But it was a wake-up call for India. In fact, this victory was much better than the 3-0 morale-boosting win over Spain in terms of executions of the game plan.

The Argentines are always known for their robust game and can give a big headache to any team. But India raised the bar. Although the forward line was unimpressive, the midfield and the defence stood out for India.

Australian coach Graham Reid made a masterstroke in fielding Varun Kumar instead of Birendra Lakra. Varun rose to the occasion and even gave India the first goal with a powerfully executed short corner shot in the 43rd minute after the first two quarters ended goalless.

The stout-hearted Indian defence of Amit Rohidas, Varun, Harmanpreet Singh and Rupinderpal Singh built a strong fortress. They were confident in tackles and sure in clearances. They frustrated the Argentine attack and never allowed them a clear view of the goal.

Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh was ever-agile at the rear. The Argentines are very dangerous with breakaway moves but they couldn’t break the water-tight defence of the Indians today. The defence won yet another battle for India.

Skipper Manpreet Singh was busy in the midfield but the fleet-footed Vivek Sagar Prasad was the cynosure of all. He was a bundle of energy. With a good eye-and-hand coordination, this diminutive midfielder troubled the Argentine defence.

However, the forward line, particularly Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh and Simranjeet Singh, were guilty of missed opportunities. Time and again, they fumbled with the ball in the Argentine `D’ area leading to frustration in the Indian ine camp. As the road gets tougher and tougher, Reid would like the forwards to be more sharp at the goal.

There was palpable tension in the Indian camp when the third quarter resumed. Varun finally broke the Argentine defence with short corner. But soon, Schuth Casella brought parity in the 48th minute off a short corner shot that sped past Sreejesh.

India got their second goal through a right flank attack that created a melee in the Argentine defence. First Dilpreet’s attempt was blocked by goalkeeper Vivaldi and off the rebound, the brilliant Vivek, who was lurking around, shot home in the 58th minute. One minute later, Harmanpreet converted India’s eighth penalty corner to give his team a creditable win.

(Nandanoori Mukesh is a three-time hockey Olympian)

Also read: India beats Argentina 3-1 to seal QF berth in Olympic men’s hockey

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