Jan 28, 2023

FIH Hockey World Cup | India shows cutting edge to seal top 10 finish

It was a venue and crowed befitting a World Cup final as 20 000 fans packed into Rourkela to watch South Africa and India play for a top 10 spot at the global showpiece. The game marked the 200th game for Mandeep Singh, a remarkable achievement.

The African Champions will be disappointed by their slow start to the game and found themselves trailing five minutes in. Abishek received the ball at the top of the circle, created space with his first touch and fired a blistering strike into the backboard.

The crowd were superb in supporting every foray forward by the host nation and their players were clearly buoyed by the support. They continued to furrow forward and found themselves a penalty corner which was smashed home by Harmanpreet Singh.

South Africa settled into the game and were unlucky not to pull a goal back when Bili Ntuli hit the outside of the goal post. South Africa consistently broke up play and tried their best to get a goal back, while Gowan Jones was on form whenever he was called on.

South Africa had three penalty corners as they pushed the Indian defense and continued to ask questions. But despite the circle entries, the clear-cut chances were limited outside of the penalty corners as the game trudged its way to the end of the third quarter.

But just before the hooter ending the third quarter Shamsher Singh peeled off the back of the defenders and tapped in unmarked on the back post. They made it 4-0 with an instinctive finish by Akashdeep Singh early in the fourth quarter before the outstanding goal of the game arrived. It was however from the stick of the South Africans.

An overhead ball to Samkelo Mvimbi was brought down brilliantly and he roofed the ball superbly. South Africa continued to search for a second, but India scored on the counterattack. South Africa would have the opportunity for a last laugh as Mustapha Cassiem stood up and finished a sensational stroke.

That would be that and the game would end 5-2 to the Indians who ended a disappointing World cup on a high. For the South Africans and 11th place finish, above their ranking of 14th shows the continued progress being made.

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