Vineet Ramakrishnan/Zeenews Sport Bureau
FINAL SCORE: India 8 : 1 France
New Delhi: Indian men’s hockey team demolished France 8-1 in the FIH Olympic qualifiers final to book a place in the 2012 London Olympics here at Major Dhyan Chand Stadium on Sunday.
Lead by drag flicker Sandeep Singh’s five goals the Indians showcased hockey of the highest level putting the French team to the sword with tactical precision and lighting quick counter attacks.
Goal Scorers India - Birendra Lakra (17th min), Sandeep Singh (20th, 26th, 37th, 50th and 51st Min), SV Sunil (43rd Min) and VR Raghunath (56th Min)
France - Simon Martin Brisec (24th Min)
9.27 p.m. GOAL !!! Drag flicker Raghunath got himself into the score sheet as India converted six out of their seven penalty corners thus far.
9.20 p.m. GOAL !!! Sixth for Sandeep Singh and India are definitely on road to the 2012 London Olympics.
9.20 p.m. GOAL !!! Sandeep Singh’s 15th goal of the tournament and 4th of the final as India put France to the sword.
9.19 p.m. Short corner for India as France got their second Yellow card.
9.11 p.m. GOAL !!! SV Sunil gets the goal with Tushar Khandker’s assist. India 5 and France 1.
9.07 p.m. Indian Keeper PR Sreejesh came up with two impressive saves as France got three back to back penalties.
9.04 p.m. GOAL !!! Hat-trick for Sandeep Singh. The best of the lot from Sandeep Singh as it went like a bullet to the top left corner of the French goal post. Keeper Matthies Dierckens and Lucas Sevestre had no chance of stopping that.
9.00 p.m. Second half under way, and instantly Shivendra was into the attack going one on one with the keeper. Short corner for India.
Goal Scorers India - Birendra Lakra (17th min), Sandeep Singh (20th Min and 26th Min) France - Simon Martin Brisec (24th Min)
8.45 p.m. India have had nine circle penetration till this point and 4 shots at goal with higher percentage of possession. 52 to 48.
8.39 p.m. GOAL !!! It was Sandeep Singh again, 3-1 to India. Sandeep Singh scored again with the third short corner.
8.38 p.m. GOAL !!! Simon Martin-Brisac scores for France after a great counter attacking move by Sebastian Jean-Jean.
8.32 p.m. Second short corner. GOAL !!! Drag Flicker Sandeep Singh takes India’s lead to 2 - 0. Shivendra went for a TV replay for a foul and that earned India their second short corner and Sandeep Singh did not miss the goal this time around.
8.27 p.m. GOAL Birendra Lakra puts India in front. Sardara Singh with precision long pass to Manpreet Singh in the right flank. Manpreet then put the ball inside the circle where Birendra intercepted with a right shot.
8.21 p.m. India have had two circle penetration till this point and one shot at goal with an overwhelmingly higher percentage of possession. 66 to 34.
8.19 p.m. Good combo play by the Indian forwards as the French defenders were barely able to match up to the speed of the Indians.
8.14 p.m. The corner is saved but India applying early pressure.
8.13 p.m. First short corner Courtesy a dribbling run by SV Sunil from the right wing.
8.07 p.m. The whistle is blown and India in white take the ball.
8.06 p.m. Now the French National Anthem, and the visitors will look to upstage the favourites.
8.05 p.m. Indian National Anthem was played out first as the Indians look to salvage the lost pride by qualifying to the Olympics, a feat they missed last year.
India: Ignace Tirkey, Rupinder Pal Singh, Sandeep Singh, Kothajit Singh, Manpreet Singh, Sardar Singh (C), Sarawanjit Singh, VR Raghunath, Tushar Khandker, SK Uthappa, PR Sreejesh (GK), Shivendra Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Gurwinder Singh Chandi, SV Sunil, Birendra Lakra.
France: Frederic Verrier, Tom Genestet, Hugo Genestet, Arnold Becuwe (C), Joost Jansen, Fabien Magner, Noicolas Martin-Brisac, Sebastian Jean-Jean, Bastien Dierckens, Lucas Sevestre, Francois Scheefer, Martin Genestet, valentine Migneau, Simon Martin-Brisac, Jean-Baptiste Forgues, Matthies Dierckens (GK).
India-France Head to Head
Played - 39
India Won - 28
India Lost - 3
Draw - 8
India started the FIH Olympic qualifiers as favourites and stayed unbeaten before reaching the final at the Dhyan Chand stadium in Delhi. They took off in style against a lowly Singapore to drub them 15-1. Against a sorry Italy the scoreline read 8-1 in favour of the Indians. India didn’t sweat much to down the other finalist France 6-2. As expected, India faced the first test in the tournament against Canada but came good in the end. Poland at once threatened India by making an early breakthrough but the hosts toiled hard to beat them and avoided facing them in the final.
When it looked like they have sorted out the defensive flaws, there appeared fresh trouble in finishing. The match against Canada was a testimony to this latest mess. But when all thought it was rectified it haunted them against Poland as well. The bright spot is ace drag flicker Sandeep Singh’s rollicking form. He is the highest goal-scorer with 11 goals from five outings.
After a hat-trick against France and two goals against Canada, Sandeep scored two more against Poland on Friday to take his tally in the event to 11. Apart from Sandeep, S V Sunil too has been impressive upfront even though he failed to score against Poland.