India defeated Olympic Champions Germany 5-4 to book their place in 5th place play off against Belgium at Hero Hockey World League Final being played in New Delhi. Earlier Belgium defeated Argentina in shoot-out to advance to 5th place match, which will be played tomorrow (18th Jan) at 1530 IST, while Argentina take on Germany for 7th place at 1315 IST (Full schedule here).
Rupinderpal Singh scored from a penalty corner securing India’s win in the last minute of the match, which India’s first victory over European giants Germany in last ten years.
Pleased with performance of his wards, Indian Chief Coach, Terry Walsh, said: “We tried to play our game, and for large sections of the game we did. We certainly matched the Germans; either team could have won. We came back from being 0-2 down to win, that shows the calibre of these guys.”
Hero Man of the Match, triple goal scorer Mandeep Singh, said: “I had such great service from the team throughout the match.” Singh’s sharp-shooting won praise from his coach, who said: “When someone is as good in front of goal as this guy, we need to build our team around utilising that talent.”
The Olympic champions, who had lost their quarter final 3-2 to the Netherlands, opened the scoring thanks to team-captain Oliver Korn (4’) picking up a rebound in the Indian circle and hammering it into the goal. Thilo Stralkowski (6’) doubled the German lead a couple of minutes later when scoring from a penalty corner. His fourth goal in this competition made the 26-year-old new top scorer for his team.
Mandeep Singh (18’) made the home crowd cheer when finishing a promising Indian counter-attack by a successful shot from the top of the circle. However, Benjamin Wess (27’) added another one for Germany, securing a 3-1 lead at halftime.
“Getting structure is the key to development in this side. We need to find a way to combine Indian style and flair with technical structure” said Roelant Oltmans, India’s director of performance, at halftime.
India got the better start in the second half and shocked the European champions with a double-strike from Rupinder Singh (39’) and Mandeep Singh (41’) to level the score to 3-3. The host nation came close to taking the lead when a deflected ball hit the German goal post.
Mandeep Singh (53’) added his third goal of the day when putting India ahead 4-3. This goal seemed to be a wake-up call for Germany who equalised through a penalty corner goal from Martin Häner (55’).
“We lost control of the match and then India was there and their spectators as well”, German Tobias Hauke said. Coach Markus Weise agreed: “Today we beat ourselves. We didn’t use our chances.” as the Olympic Champions failed to convert a stroke in 2nd half.
Highlights of the match are here