Odisha HWC: Pool C end match Day Five with draws.
It was a point apiece for all teams on match day five of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup, Bhubaneswar; host India and Belgium playing a 2-2 draw to level on points at the top of Pool C with South Africa and Canada sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
South Africa (FIH Hero World Ranking: 15) and Canada (WR:11) started the day with a thrilling encounter. With both teams eager for a win after loses on day one, the game was surely a must watch. It was the African giants who dominated the opening minutes of the game with numerous chances but Odisha Player of the Match David Carter was the pillar between the post for Canada.
The dominance from South Africa continued in the second quarter but the defense of Canada stood tall to ensure the game stayed goalless. The deadlock had to be broken and it was Nqobile Ntuli with a backhand shot who gave South Africa the lead. The celebration was cut short though as Canada leveled two minutes later with skipper Scott Tupper firing a penalty stroke past goalkeeper Gowan Jones.
Canada’s Red Caribou stayed defensive tactically in the closing stages as South Africa plotted to snatch a winner; it was no so as they shared the spoils.
The focus however was on the day’s second match as host India (WR:5) and Belgium (WR3) took to the field. The 15,000 Kalinga Hockey Stadium was filled to capacity as spectators trooped in to witness a match in the race for top spot in Pool C.
Belgium took the lead in the 8th minute courtesy a wonderfully converted penalty corner by Alexander Hendrickx. India had chances in the first amd second quarter to level but all efforts proved futile.
The stadium came to life in the third quarter as India restored parity. The dream was still on as Harmanpreet Singh calmly scored from the penalty spot beating 2017 hockey star awards goalkeeper of the year, Vincent Vanasch to find the bottom left corner.
The Stadium erupted two minutes into the fourth quarter when Simranjeet Singh scored his third goal of the competition to put India infront for the first time in the game. With time running out, Belgium replaced their goalkeeper with an outfield player and it paid off; Simon Gougnard slapped home an equaliser to level the scores.
The action continues on Monday 3rd December with Spain taking on France. The match is followed with New Zealand (WR:9) facing Argentina (WR:2).
Photo Credit: FIH