Riding on a goal each from Walmiki brothers and captain Sardar, the Indian Men Hockey Team defeated Poland by 3-0 in a Pool A league match of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final 2015, being played in Antwerp, Belgium.
India dominated the match from the first minute and attacked from both the sides of the field, which earned them a convincing victory over FIH Rank #17 Poland and three more points to lead their Pool with six points. Elder of the Walmiki (Yuvraj) brothers opened the scoring in 2nd quarter, captain Sardar doubled the lead in 3rd quarter and younger Walmiki (Devindar) completed the tally in final quarter.
The first quarter started with both the teams judging each other’s game-plan and strategies. Both Indian and Polish players slowly gained their attacking pace and tried to create opportunities to score the first goal of the match. Post the initial tussle in the match, both the teams finished the first quarter without scoring a goal as they failed to capitalise on the opportunities.
In the second quarter, players of both teams entered the astro-turf with more aggression and a motto to open their respective accounts. Indian players gave a tough fight to their opponents and managed to keep ball possession which helped them maintain a good attack. It was in the 21st minute, Poland earned a penalty corner and took aim to score the first goal. Karol Majchrzak injected the ball to the drag-flicker and his team-mate hit the ball harder toward the goal-box. But the world-class goalkeeper PR Sreejesh dived on his right and deflected the ball in the air. With the marvellous save, the Indian players got a new zeal in their attack and played with more aggression.
Two minutes (23rd minute) later the Indian’s penetrated the D with all force as Birendra Lakra hit a shot from the half-line and the ball was received by Yuvraj Walmiki and he didn’t waste a moment to chip the ball over Polish goalkeeper Arkadiusz Matuszak’s head to score the first goal of the match. With this spectacular goal, India took an early lead of 1-0 and received a huge boost in their morale. Maintaining the attacking stand, India earned a penalty corner in the 29th minute. Manpreet Singh took the shot and hit at right place of the goal-box, but Polish custodian Matuszak cleared the ball by diving on his right. India was still leading the match by 1-0 at the end of second half.
In the third quarter, Poland players showed some resistance by playing a defensive game but they could not stop India team’s continuous attacks. Indians played with more aggression and played the ball in the Polish half, which put more pressure on the European team. Poland managed to counter attack on fewer occasions and managed to enter Indian circle. However, their all attacks were foiled by India’s strong defence and PR Sreejesh, who stood like a wall in front of the goal-box. In the 42nd minute, Indians attacked from centre and skipper Sardar Singh took the ball towards D. He dribbled the ball at his position, looking for the right moment, and found the target with a tomahawk shot. The ball passed between the two legs of Polish goalie Matuszak and before he reacted, India scored the second goal. With a spectacular goal from the Captain, India finished the third quarter at the score-line of 2-0.
In the fourth quarter, India maintained their domination in the match and continuously attacked in the opponent’s camp. It was very hard for Poland players to snatch the ball from India’s possession and implement their strategies on the field. Indian didn’t allow Poland to settle down and maintained the pressure on them. In the 52nd minute, India Team attacked from the left flank with midfielder Chinglensana Singh, who ran across towards D, sent a long pass into the circle, where defender Devindar Sunil Walmiki deflected the shot with an acute angle. The ball made its way into the goal-box by beating Polish defenders and goal-keeper. Devindar, younger of the Walmiki brothers, who made his dream debut in the previous match against France, scored his second international goal and took the score-card to 3-0.
Leading by three goals, the Indian players carried on their attacking game and restricted Poland at their half. Poland tried to create some opportunities but they failed to find any room in front of India’s continuous attacks. With the three brilliant goals, India post a 3-0 victory over Poland.
Speaking after the match, India Men Team Captain Sardar Singh stated: “We played very well in today’s match and we are satisfied with our performance against Poland. They are a good team and playing against them was a challenge for us. But we have improved our game from the previous match and we are quite happy with the result. We are focussing on our strategies match by match and the next match against Pakistan will be special. We are getting ready for the clash.”
The FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final 2015 will see the India Men Team taking on Pakistan on 26th June 2015 at 19.30 IST. The matches will be telecasted LIVE on Star Sports.