Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], June 10 (ANI): India defeated Uzbekistan 10-0 in their last pool A match against Uzbekistan on Monday in the ongoing FIH Men's Series Finals at Kalinga Stadium here and as a result, the team has entered the semi-finals.
India outclassed opponents and registered a third consecutive win in the pool A match. The team scored perfect ten as forwarder Akashdeep Singh (11,26,53) completed his hat-trick. Skipper Mandeep Singh (30,60) and Varun Kumar (2,22) netted two goals for the team. Amit Rohidas (15), Nilakanta Sharma (27), and Gursahibjit Singh (45) scored one goal each.
In the early stage of the first quarter, India got a penalty corner but Varun Kumar failed to put the ball in the goalpost. Mandeep Singh managed to get another penalty corner and this time Varun brilliantly drag-flicked the ball and scored the first goal for India in the fourth minute of the match.
India kept the possession and tried to penetrate Uzbekistan's defence. In the 11th minute of the first quarter, Akashdeep converted the rebound from Ramandeep's Singh stick to goal, doubling India's lead to 2-0.
Rohidas made most from the penalty corner and made it to net in the final minutes of the first quarter, giving India a lead of 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.
In the initial minutes of the second quarter, India maintained the same pace and earned the penalty corner but Hardik Singh missed the opportunity to score a goal.
Varun with his fierce flick which deflected off the gaolkeeper's stick scored the fourth goal for the team.
In the 26th minute, Akashdeep with his back-of-the-hand shot netted the ball to the goal. In the next minute, Nilakanta included himself to the scoresheet with a wristy flick from the edge of the circle, strengthing India's lead to 6-0.
Mandeep in the 30th minute converted the penalty corner to the goal, the second quarter ended with the scoreline of 7-0.
It was one-way traffic at the Kalinga Stadium in the first half as Uzbekistan could not able to score a single goal.
India kept the ball moving and made their way into the circle but failed to score the goal. In the very last minute of the third quarter, Gursahibjit with a powerful shot ended the third quarter with the scoreline of 8-0.
In the last quarter, India scored two goals and manages to the perfect ten. Akshdeep and Mandeep netted the goal in the fourth quarter, as a result, India won the match with a 10-0 lead.
"It was really important for us to finish at the top of the pool because now we can rest for one match and prepare for the semi-finals. We did many good things during this pool phase but still, there is some improvement needed, so we will work and come back good in the semi-finals," Indian captain Manpreet Singh said.
In the other match between South Africa and Mexico, the former defeated the latter 6-0.
Matthew de Sousa, Nicholas Spoone, Nqobile Ntuli, Austin Smith, Richard Pautz and Keenan Horne scored for South Africa. Mexico did not lay back as they made attacking moves but in the end, South Africa was able to seal the match 6-0.
"We started slowly in the tournament. We didn't get the results we wanted up front. But we've slowly built ourselves and we got a result tonight that will give us confidence." South Africa's Nqobile Ntuli, the man of the match said after the game.
Following the completion of the pool stage today, the cross-overs will see Japan face Poland and Russia take on South Africa on June 12.
India and USA have qualified directly for the semi-finals. Uzbekistan and Mexico will play for 7th place in the overall standings. (ANI)