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India hammer Holland
July 03, 2005 00:11 IST
Dictating the pace and exchanges, defending champions India hammered the Netherlands 4-1 to top Pool D with an unbeaten record in the Rabobank Junior Men's World Cup hockey tournament in Rotterdam on Saturday.
It was a comprehensive victory for the Indians who were rarely troubled by a jittery Dutch team. In fact, the Indians did as they pleased with Sandeep Singh converting two penalty corners (12th, 60th) and Tushar Khandekar chipping in with a brace (15th, 62nd).
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The lone Dutch goal came in the 38th when Sjcerd Steller converted a penalty corner against the run of play.
Both India and Holland have already qualified for the second round of the tournament that begins on Sunday. India topped their pool with three wins, ahead of the Dutch.
Barring a brief spell early in the second-half when the Indians slackened just a bit to allow the Dutch into the game, there was hardly a moment when the hosts looked capable of even matching their opponents in any department leave alone winning the match.
Crossing over with a 2-0 advantage, the Indians slipped by conceding a penalty corner goal before tightening up and then stepping up the pace at the fag end of the game when they scored twice more.
In between, the Dutch goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann came up with a couple of fine saves to deny the Indians whose forwards also were guilty of missing a few sitters.
However, Sandeep Singh converted his second penalty corner of the match and almost immediately, Khandekar capped a Hari Prasad-Nithin Kumar move to round off a good match for himself.
Coach Harendra Singh was obviously delighted. "It was a team effort and this precisely what is required from India if they hope to retain the World Cup. Otherwise, it was Tushar Khandekar's match today. He scored two goals and also played a pivotal role in the frontline," he said.
Earlier, Germany, Malaysia and Belgium qualified for the second round in contrasting styles.
Germany defeated Malaysia 7-5 in a rousing encounter for their second win while Belgium edged past Chile 2-0 for their first win in the preliminary league to also qualify for the second round, Henry Cavenaile (5th) and Jerome Truyens (39th) being the scorers.
The Malaysians, despite the defeat, advanced thanks to Argentina handing out a third loss to South Africa with a 1-0 verdict, Lucas Vila converting penalty corner in the 15th minute for the match-winner.
Later, Australia recorded their third win by overcoming Pakistan 3-2. The match was of academic interest since both teams had already qualified for the second round.
India enjoyed an excellent first-half during which they gave little elbow room to the Dutch to launch an effective move.
Also, with the Dutch midfield struggling to hold its own, the Indians virtually had a free run. It was only goalkeeper Stockmann who kept India at bay with at least three good saves, two of those from Sandeep Singh's penalty corner drag-flicks.
Playing attacking hockey from the start, the Indians went ahead in the 12th when Sandeep Singh came good with his third try from a sequence of penalty corners.
Three minutes later, a swift counter-attack saw Nitin Kumar relaying the ball to Vinaya who in turn found Khandekar with a square pass inside the circle. Khandekar flicked home for his first goal of the tournament.
Towards close of the session, India came close to scoring on a couple of occasions, but the Dutch defence stood firm.
At the other end, the Indian defence was rarely tested and when the Dutch made a rare entry into the circle, the deep defenders exhibited individual skills while tackling. The Dutch had but one penalty corner in this half, but the set-piece attempt turned out to be rather messy.
Earlier, top-ranked Spain rounded off their preliminary league campaign with an easy 6-0 win against Mexico to finish second in Pool A behind Korea.
Sunday's fixtures (all IST):
Pakistan vs Germany (2.30 pm); Australia vs Malaysia (3.30 pm); Spain vs India (5.30 pm); Korea vs Poland (6.30 pm); England vs Netherlands (7.30 pm); Argentina vs Belgium (9.30 pm).