BHUBANESWAR: If the International Hockey Federation (FIH) were to make a DVD of the India–Germany match, they might do a lot worse than title it, “Hockey masterclass: Germany”. The 2-0 scoreline did bear justice to what happened at the Kalinga Stadium. The Olympic bronze medallists existed on a different planet than the hosts.
Sure, Manpreet Singh’s men laid out the red carpet — the hosts looked like 11 men who had won the lottery to represent the national team. But the Germans killed the game early by taking the sport to a higher plane, and then preferred to sit back and watch India stumble in the dark to find the house key, long after they had lost it.
The beginning of the match was a sign of things to come. Germany protected the ball like it was a newborn kid. So much so that the opening five minutes saw India touch the ball fewer than 10 times. They ran hard but only succeeded in chasing shadows for the game’s majority.
Unsurprisingly, Germany scored twice in four minutes. After Martin Haner’s well-taken penalty corner opened the scoring in the 17th minute, Mats Grambusch doubled the advantage in the 20th minute.
What would have been frustrating for Sjoerd Marijne was the way in which the second goal went in? The German attackers were guarded but the Indian defenders stood there like traffic cones. Passes were exchanged and before they realised, Grambusch had sounded the board.
The hosts did get into the game in the second-half. But unfortunately, they never really threatened to score apart from a four-minute period. It’s safe to say they need to up their level by several folds if they are to progress further in the tournament.
Belgium likely opponents for India in quarters
If Spain do not beat Argentina in Tuesday’s first match, India will play Belgium for a last-four place.
Having finished bottom of Pool B with just a point, the hosts will play the Red Lions, who are nailed on to top Pool A barring a remarkable final-day turnaround of the group stages.
Although, the same scenario presented itself at the last edition in Raipur in 2015. India finished bottom and faced Great Britain, who topped their group. The hosts beat Britain 2-1 to advance to the semifinals.
Pool B: England 2 (Liam Ansell 4th, Phil Roper 54th) drew with Australia 2 (Dylan Wotherspoon 33rd, Blake Govers 41st).
Germany 2 (Martin Haner 17th, Mats Grambusch 20th) beat India 0.
Tuesday’s fixtures: Pool A: Argentina vs Spain (5.30 pm), Belgium vs Netherlands (7.30 pm).