Indians decimate Singapore

Indians decimate Singapore

Chandis hat-trick helps hosts register 15-1 victory over visitors in opener

Favourites India launched their dream journey to London Olympics in brutal fashion, decimating a clueless Singapore here on Saturday.

Hat-trick man: India’s Gurvinder Singh Chandi (left) celebrates with team-mate Manpreet Singh after scoring against Singapore in New Delhi on Saturday. AFP

After second-seeded Canada had sounded their intentions early in the day with 9-0 mauling of Italy, the onus was on the Indians to give a fitting reply, and they did it in astounding style, flattening Singapore 15-1 at the Major Dhyan Chand National stadium.

Man of the match Gurvinder Singh Chandi led the goal assault with a treble, Shivendra Singh, Danish Mujtaba and SV Sunil scored a brace each while vice-captain Sardar Singh, Tushar Khandkar, Sandeep Singh, SK Uthappa, Yuvraj Walmiki and Birendra Lakra struck one apiece as the erstwhile powerhouse Indians handed out a lesson in attacking hockey to the inexperienced Singaporeans.

Over the last four months, coach Michael Nobbs has kept his cards very close to his chest, not willing to play practice matches in the current FIH London Olympics Qualifiers and even requesting television journalists to stop filming the practice session as that would give the opponents an idea of things to come. Little did Singapore, a team comprising mostly of university students, imagine what they were in for.

Eager to set the ball rolling and put the lowly Singaporeans in their place, the Indians pushed hard from the very onset, creating as many as five opportunities in the opening eight minutes, only to be let down by tentative finishing.

Talented Chandi finally opened the floodgates for the Indians in the 10th minute, after which the Indians ran roughshod over the Singaporeans. Playing with a new-found determination and confidence, they kicked into top gear in no time, pumping in goals one after the another, pushing the visitors on the backfoot.

Despite facing no problems whatsoever, the hosts hardly allowed a dip in their high-octane display, leaving Singapore breathless and stunned. They led 6-0 at halftime, signaling another mauling they gave to Mexico in Chile four years ago at the previous edition of this tournament when they crushed the South Americans 18-1.

Their only aberration was a goal on the counter from Singapore’s Enrico Elifh Marican four minutes into the second half. Their egos hurt, India hit back strongly, restoring their six goal advantage in a minute before reining them in smashing style. Eight more goals followed, including the icing on the cake with a last-gasp goal from Birendra Lakra.

Canada sizzle

Veteran Rob Short and Matthew Guest scored a brace each as Canada crushed Italy 9-0 to launch their campaign in splendid style.

David Jameson, Hudson Stewart, Philip Wright and Scott Tupper sounded the board once each as Canada registered one their biggest victories in pursuit of their second consecutive Olympic appearance.

France survive

Dark horses France rode on a goal each from Hugo Genestet and Luca Sevestre to edge past Poland 2-1.

Playing their first major outdoor event since the 2002 World Cup, Poland appeared jittery and France cashed in in fine fashion, going ahead through Genestet (9th) before Sevestre made it 2-0 in the 39th minute. Oszyjczyk pulled one back for Poland two minutes later.

Results: Canada: 9 (David Jameson 13th, Matthew Guest 20th, 56th, Rob Short 34th, 57th, Hudson Stewart 39th, Iain Smythe 54th, Philip Wright 60th, Scott Tupper 65th) bt Italy: 0; France: 2 (Hugo Genestet 9th, Lucas Sevestre 39th) bt Poland: 1 (Szymon Oszyjczyk 41st); India: 15 (Gurvinder Singh Chandi 10th, 21st, 40th, Sardar Singh 11th, Shivendra Singh 18th, 30th, Danish Mujtaba 25th , 52nd, Tushar Khandkar 42nd, Sandeep Singh 47th, SK Uthappa 48th, Yuvraj Walmiki 52nd, SV Sunil 54th, 57th , Birendra Lakra 70th) bt Singapore: 1 (Enrico Elifh Marcian 39th).