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News HWL 2017 Final: India stun Belgium in shootout to enter semifinals
12-07-2017, 09:23 AM
Post: #1
HWL 2017 Final: India stun Belgium in shootout to enter semifinals
[Image: 644440-ians-hockey-bl-vs-ind.png]

Akash Chikte pulled off a brilliant show in the Indian post during a thrilling penalty shootout against Rio Olympics runners-up Belgium to take the hosts into the semifinals of the Hockey World League (HWL) Finals at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

The see-saw quarterfinal battle stood 3-3 at the end of regulation time and then settled in favour of the hosts at 3-2 after sudden death shootout, thanks to PR Sreejesh’s understudy Chikte, who made four brilliant saves to send the 9000-strong crowd and his team-mates into a frenzy.

Gurjant Singh (31st minute), Harmanpreet Singh (35th) and Rupinder Pal Singh (46th) scored for India before the full-time hooter blew.

The Red Lions were led by their goal machine Loick Luypaert, who hit a brace in the 39th and 46th minute, while Amaury Keusters (53rd) scored the equaliser for the visitors.

In the penalty shootout, Rupinder and Lalit Upadhyay kept India in the game, but Harmanpreet, Akashdeep Singh and Sumit failed to beat the Belgium goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch.

Harmanpreet was entrusted with the responsibility to go first in sudden-death tie-breaker and he didn’t disappoint to bring cheer back among the crowd. Chikte then pulled off his fourth save in one-on-one situation against Arthur van Doren to signal India’s victory.

The hosts will take on the winners of the quarterfinal between Argentina and England to be played on Wednesday.

“We played for nothing but a win as that is the only thing that takes you forward from here on,” said a relieved India captain, Manpreet Singh, after the match. “C0rowd support played its role and it’s always inspiring to perform in front of packed stadiums and win.”

It was a different India on the pitch when it mattered the most. Sjoerd Marijne’s boys didn’t have much to write home about with just a point from a draw and two defeats in the pool stage.

India’s show, perhaps, reflected in the way veteran striker SV Sunil upped his game in the first half, where he got to the end of two brilliant balls but was unfortunate to see his deflections go wide.

Rupinder, who first assisted Harmanpreet with a dummy to score off a penalty corner, and then hit his second goal of the tournament off another, also played the role of a senior that was expected from him before the start of the tournament.

India converted two of their four PCs; but besides scoring, it was heartening to see them bring in variation to the routine.

India’s counter-attacking tactics provide futile against England and Germany, but the team stuck to it with improved formation, especially in the right flank that moved the best so far in three outings.

Belgium remained close on the heels of the Indians backed by the local crowd in numbers. It was PC expert Luypaert that they banked upon once again as the red shirts looked for an Indian foot most times they entered the striking circle.

The game was on a knife’s edge in the last seven minutes and ended in deep breaths in both dug-outs, where Marijne and Belgium coach Shane McLeod had their five players already tick-marked for the shootout.

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12-11-2017, 07:41 AM
Post: #2
RE: HWL 2017 Final: India stun Belgium in shootout to enter semifinals
HWL 2017 Final: India beat Germany, not German spirit, to win bronze

[Image: 645558-hihihih-hih-hihi.jpg]

On Sunday, when the National Anthems played before the bronze-medal match of Hockey World League (HWL) at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, 11 Germans stood hand in hand. The number of their unwell and injured players had swelled to seven and only the minimum required were available to take on India, who in the end beat the opponents 2-1, but not their spirit, to finish 2017 on the podium.

Former India coach Michael Nobbs had once said, “A sportsperson should play with coffin on the sidelines.” The visitors demonstrated that on Sunday in front of 9000 fans as the 11 Germans, who played the entire 60 minutes, collapsed on the pitch when the full-time hooter blew.

SV Sunil (21st minute) and Harmanpreet Singh (54th) got India the goals they needed, while it was reserve goalkeeper Mark Appel, playing his second match in a row as striker, who scored off a 36th-minute slap-push from skipper Mats Grambusch to draw his team level.

This was India’s second bronze-medal finish of the year, following up on the third place at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to start 2017. It also helped India qualify for the Champions Trophy to be held next year in the Netherlands.

Last month, India had won their third Asia Cup ending a decade-long jinx.

It’s kind of funny how sometimes maintaining focus becomes difficult even when circumstances are loaded in your favour. At the same time, having backs to the wall can bring the best out of players.

In both cases, an 11 vs 18 match still gave the Germans an equal chance, because of their never-say-die spirit and India’s scare to not concede early, because had the Germans done that, they would have played the rest of the match inside their 25-yard line.

And India never wanted that.

“We wanted to score early,” admitted India coach Marijne. “The way they played, it was not a system we are used to.”

The Germans planted a man, reserve goalkeeper Appel, as central striker always hovering inside or on top of the Indian circle.

“The players were a little bit scared to lose the ball,” Marijne added. “I am happy with the win, because matches like these are not easy. It (11 vs 18) all plays in your head.”

It’s probably the reason why a nervous Indian defence conceded six penalty corners in the first half. It was only due to Suraj Karkera’s brilliance in the post that India could keep those out to lead 1-0 after two quarters.

Of the many field chances Indian forwards created, Sunil scored when the rebound from Tobias Walter, off Akashdeep’s hit, found the veteran striker in perfect position.

After Appel surprised India and gladdened Germany with the equalizer, India upped the tempo going into the fourth quarter, in which they earned three of their four penalty corners. Harmanpreet scored off the last one in the 54th minute, which proved to be the winner.

But the German coach wasn’t disappointed one bit.

“It’s much more important to see the kind of spirit this team developed to push each other in such an important match. We did everything we can today. Congrats to India. The scoresheet for me is the right one. But look at this smile (points at Gramsbusch),” Stefan Kermas said hailing the spirit of his boys.

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