Bengaluru: There could not have been better preparations for the Indian Men’s Hockey Team ahead of the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta than playing against World No. 9 New Zealand in a three-match Series here at the Sports Authority of India in Bengaluru.
As the home team wrapped up the much-needed practice matches before Asian Games, with their third consecutive victory, Chief Coach Harendra Singh expressed content with his team’s performance.
“Playing high-intensity matches against one of the Top 10 Teams in the World ahead of a crucial event like the Asian Games is beneficial for us. During these three matches, we tried out different combinations and variations in PC and we are better prepared for the upcoming Tournament,” stated Harendra Singh after the match.
In Sunday’s match, Rupinder Pal Singh (8′), Surender Kumar (15′), Mandeep Singh (44′) and Akashdeep Singh (60′) scored for India while the team’s defence ensured a clean sheet denying the visitors any scoring opportunities. In the first quarter, India took a 1-0 lead after Rupinder scored off the team’s second Penalty Corner. He fired low towards the right corner of the post, taking his personal goal count to four goals in the series against New Zealand.
Brilliant stick work by Surender Kumar and a clever assist by Rupinder from the top of the striking circle earned India their second goal of the match in the 15th minute.
“We had specifically worked on different variations in goal scoring and I believe the team still has scope to improve our field goal conversation rate. We missed quite a few easy chances today and we need to work on this ahead of the Asian Games,” expressed Singh.
India’s third goal came in the 44th minute through Mandeep Singh. It was Sardar Singh who set up the goal as he worked magic with his stick making way from the left flank, beating New Zealand defenders to find Simranjeet Singh who later flicked it to Mandeep. A simple yet clever deflection was enough to beat New Zealand goalkeeper George Enersen.
It was Akashdeep Singh who was enthralling as he scored the home team’s fourth goal in the 60th minute, taking India’s winning scoreline to 4-0.