In­dia achieve pri­mary ob­jec­tive

Hosts siz­zle in fi­nal quar­ter to brush aside Canada and earn di­rect quar­ter­fi­nals ticket, coach Haren­dra says World Cup starts now

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - SP RT - DNA Cor­re­spon­dent

Mum­bai: One of the pri­mary ob­jec­tives of In­dia head coach Haren­dra Singh go­ing into the Hockey Men’s World Cup cam­paign was top­ping the pool stage and thereby se­cur­ing a di­rect quar­ter­fi­nals ticket. Ob­jec­tive one: check.

In­dia beat Canada 5-1 in Bhubaneswar on Satur­day to top Pool C and seal in their place in the last eight stage with­out hav­ing to go through the tricky cross-over stage, which teams placed sec­ond and third in each pool will have to deal with.

In­dia will now have the lux­ury of a four-day rest pe­riod, for their quar­ter­fi­nals is sched­uled on Thurs­day. And, bar­ring a ma­jor upset, the hosts are all likely to face Nether­lands in or­der to qual­ify for the semi­fi­nals.

“Those who have vis­ited my room know I have al­ready writ­ten who we will play in the quar­ter­fi­nals and who in the semi­fi­nals. For me a four­na­tion tour­na­ment has fin­ished and the World Cup starts now,” Haren­dra said af­ter the vic­tory.

“From quar­ter­fi­nals you can smell a medal. The ac­tual tour­na­ment starts with the next game,” he added.

Af­ter Bel­gium thrashed South Africa 5-1 in the first match of the day, the sce­nario for In­dia was sim­ple: a win would take them straight to the quar­ter­fi­nals, while any other re­sult would give that po­si­tion to the Bel­gians.

At the end of the third quar­ter, In­dia would’ve felt the jit­ters, with Canada giv­ing them a mighty fight to hold them to 1-1.

How­ever, the hosts came out fly­ing in the fi­nal quar­ter, pump­ing in four goals to throw those nerves out of the vo­cif­er­ous Kalinga Sta­dium and ensure that Bel­gium — who have the same num­ber of points as In­dia but have an in­fe­rior goal dif­fer­ence — will have to en­ter the cross-over stage.

Chin­glen­sana Singh (46th minute), Lalit Upad­hyay (47th, 57th) and Amit Ro­hi­das (51st) turned the heat on in the fi­nal 15 min­utes af­ter Har­man­preet Singh gave In­dia the lead in the 12th minute.

Canada’s lone goal came from the stick of Floris van Son in the 39th minute.

—AFP

In­dia’s Lalit Upad­hyay cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing a goal against Canada dur­ing their World Cup en­counter in Bhubaneswar on Satur­day

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