The Hague, Netherlands, 29th May 2014: In its last warm-up game for Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 played against South Africa yesterday at The Hague, Netherlands, Team India displayed maturity and sense of purpose to achieve resounding victory over South Africa 4-1 after a 1-2 losing against Argentina on Monday.
India dominated the game from the very first half of the game itself, when Vice-Captain Rupinder Pal Singh made no mistake in converting a penalty corner opportunity and took a 1-0 lead over South Africa at the end of the first half. In the second half of the game, it was Rupinder Pal Singh again who successfully converted another penalty corner to further add on to the lead and take it to 2-0.
South Africa did manage to convert one penalty corner out of all the opportunities to reduce the margin, but India restricted them from scoring any further goals demonstrating a strong defence line-up that India has been working on. To further add to the scoring account, it was Captain Sardar Singh who contributed through a field goal and raised the score to 3-1, which was followed by V R Raghunath’s successful penalty corner to seal the victory with a 4-1 on the board against South Africa.
Lalit Upadhyay and Yuvraj Walmiki has replaced injured Ramandeep Singh and Nikkin Thimmaiah. Ramandeep got injured while playing in the practice game against Argentina, while Nikkin sustained a hamstring pull on the right side during a training session on Tuesday. Doctors advised Nikkin for a rest of 4 weeks after diagnosing a muscle tear in hamstring.
Speaking on team India’s performance, Roelant Oltmans, Director High Performance, said, “The first half of the match turned out to be a little slower than expected, but the second half of the game saw a really good performance by the team, where defence also gave an excellent response. We are happy to see both Lalit Upadhyay and Yuvraj Walmiki living up to the expectations from their very first match itself. The team has been preparing for a long time now and it’s time for the boys to deliver their best. I am confident that the boys will perform well in this tournament.”
Speaking on the win, Captain Sardar Singh said, “It was the second practice game and I am glad the team is showing good results. The good part is that we all understand the wavelength and carry on with the game with the same mindset. This win against South Africa will further help in boosting the confidence of every player and especially Lalit Upadhyay and Yuvraj Walmiki as it was their first game. We are ready to take up more challenges and deliver even better results in the tournament.”
Commenting on the injuries, Head Coach Terry Walsh said, “It’s a double blow to us. Nikkin Thimmaiah is a key player in the team and missing out on him will be a big setback. With both Ramandeep and Nikkin missing out on the big platform I am sure both Yuvraj and Lalit will take this as a big opportunity to prove their game”.
Forward Yuvraj Walmiki said “It’s a big loss for the team as we will miss both Ramandeep and Nikkin during the upcoming World Cup. I will give by best and live up to the expectations of the Coach and team. I was part of the Indian team that went to Europe Tour last month hence getting used to the weather and playing conditions ahead of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup should not be a big challenge for me. I am excited for having received a call from the team and am looking forward to take on the challenge ahead”.
India will clash against Belgium in their first game of Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 which will be telecasted live on Ten Sports on 31st May 2014 (Saturday) at 19:30 hrs (IST) (full schedule here)