Sunday, February 19, 2012

Five things I learnt from India vs Singapore

A brilliant hat-trick by striker Gurvinder Singh Chandi helped India beat thrash minnows Singapore 15-1 in the opening encounter of Olympics Qualifiers. Here are five things I learnt from India Vs Singapore:



1. Defence still a concern

Gurvinder Singh Chandi- hat-trick hero for India
The game against Singapore once again exposed India’s biggest problem of the Indian team, defence. Indian defence was once again caught napping in the 39th minute of the game which led to the lone Singapore goal in the match. The lack of defenders or say traditional defenders is the main problem for the Indian team and having PC expert defenders is not helping the Indian team. After Dilip Tirkey, Indian team has failed to produce a natural defender and Indian team will have to wait longer as there is no replacement for great Indian player. Indian team might not face a lot of problems due to poor opposition in Olympics Qualifiers but team needs to sort out the defensive errors before the real test begins, Olympics (provided we qualify).

2. Penalty Corner still needs work

The main weapon for the Indian team failed to fire today with the Indian team just converting 1 direct penalty corner out of 6 penalty corners received during the game. Despite having three penalty corner experts on the expense of defenders, the PC experts failed to shine in the game and it was left to the Indian forward-line to achieve victory against Singapore. Raghunath failed to threaten the Singapore goalie and it was only Sandeep Singh who managed to be on score sheet from the three PC experts in the team. India’s Penalty Corner coach needs to work more with the players, and improve the penalty corner conversion rate of the team.

3. Attack, still India’s main weapon

Despite Coach Nobbs emphasising that penalty corner conversions are India’s main weapon, it’s the Indian forward line which stole the show against Singapore. Indian forward line was aggressive from the word go which led to nearly 50 circle penetrations in the game. The forward line of Indian team which is mixed of youth and experience scored fourteen field goals as compared to penalty corners which only scored one goals. The experience of Shivendra Singh, Tushar Khandekar and SV Sunil led from the front while the lesser experienced Gurvinder Singh Chandi, Yuvraj Singh, SK Uthappa and Danish Mujtaba supported them in the game. Gurvinder Singh Chandi was the top scorer for the Indian team, with 3 goals to his name. The Indian attack has always been India’s main weapon and will always continue to be India’s main weapon, despite the increasing importance of penalty corner experts.

4. Empty stands in the stadium

If Hockey India and FIH were planning to make some money out of tickets, they would be hugely disappointed by the number of fans on the stadium. There were many empty seats in the stadium and only handfuls of fans were there to support the team. The empty seats in the stadium painted a poor picture of the marketing strategies adopted by the Hockey India to promote the game and sell tickets. The tickets were made available only a week before the tournament and the information of availability of tickets were known to very few people. Hockey India needs to market the game well if it aims to promote the game and generate money from it. Empty seats in the stadium won’t motivate the players and won’t help the popularity of the sport.

5. Shining young guns

This Indian team is having a perfect balance of senior and experience players and the young players who are establishing themselves in the Indian team. The young players’ viz. Yuvraj Walmiki, SK Uthappa and Kothajit Singh had a good game and helped India to achieve a good victory. Yuvraj Walmiki and SK Uthappa scored one goal each in the game while another out of form youngster Gurvinder Singh Chandi scored a hat-trick to regain his lost confidence. The young players have performed really well recently and they will be a great asset to the team in the Olympics.



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The only drawback of this exciting day was the performance of Indian women team against Ukraine. The Indian team played a 1-1 draw against 26th ranked Ukraine. Indian team came from behind in the 55th minute to score the goal. Indian coach CR Kumar must be kicking himself after letting go a great opportunity to start the tournament on high.

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