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Dream start for India amidst full stands (11/28/2018)
--Tazeen Qureshy
Nearly outplaying their rivals, India today made a dream opening in the Odisha Men's World Cup, with a fluent 5-0 victory over Pan American Champions South Africa.

As expected, the stand was brimming with full-throat crowd, and it went with total satisfaction witnessing two good matches in the opening day.

undefined Belgium dominated initially almost in the entire first half, only to see the subdued looking Maple Leaves came out with vigour in the third and fourth quarter to post its 2-1 win.

When Africa and India met last time in the World Cup, that was the Delhi number, the match was drawn 3-3.

Mandeep Singh in the 9th minute and Akashdeep Singh in the 12th minute struck a goal apiece to put India 2-0 at the end of first quarter. The quick goals set India the tune and tenor for a great victory which it turned out ultimately.

The momentum was continued in the remaining parts too.

Two minutes after Simranjeet Singh struck, bouncing on to a short rebound off India's third penalty corner, the best moment of the match occurred.

It was Akashdeep Singh who sent a slap shot into the circle from midfield, which Lalit Upadhyay, who was unstoppable inside the circle, deflected in a lightening speed.

This fourth goal took out whatever the fight was there in the contest.

Africa was brilliant in patches in the last quarter, but could not make use of even the two hard earned penalty corners.

undefined On the other hand, India made its intentions clear from the bully off. Within first five minutes, India had created four clear opportunities which Akashdeep and Mandeep could not make use of due to misdirected shots and scoops.

Both have made immense amends subsequently. Akashdeep Singh turned out as a play maker after his second goal, and was instrumental for India in keeping the flow of the game in favour of India.

Simranjeet Singh was fittingly declared Man of the Match.

“To have a clean match sheet is a positive sign,” said coach Harendra at the post match conference. “The players came at the right time and snatched the ball. In the third quarter, I think they pressed us a bit.”

It was a special match for vice-captain Chinglensana Singh, who completed his 200th match today.

“I am overwhelmed to play my 200th international and win it. It is a special feeling to wear the Indian jersey and represent the country,” he said.

But it was gift of the gab Harendra's time after the match.

The clean match sheet is a positive sign, meaning defence played well. They came out and retrieved the lost balls at the right moment, didn't throw their sticks in a haste. however, I think we wer ea bit complacent in the third quarter." The moment they were 0-2 down, Africa pulled one of their fullbacks to add to midfield. But we regrouped well and survived those moments of pressure. They were smelling a goal. But we didn't let that happen.

"We scored the goals, no matter how we score. Yes, we will discuss our PC performance, why we were not perfect in injecting and stopping But I am happy they recovered, and even scored from those opportunities. "initially we Anxiety that every one carries, it made us cautious a little (at the start). But we realised soon and thanks to Mandeep to calm those nerves with his goal. He (Akashdeep) has very good peripheral vision. He is lethal as a link man. We have three strikers floating inside the circle. If you go back 15 years, Dhanraj changed his role from the 2002 world Cup. He became a playmaker and Deepak and Proabhjot scored. I am very happy with Akash. He is taking the lead. In every department we have a leader. I hope we continue that way throughout the tournament. I thought of changing Sreejesh (in last few minutes). But the main goalkeeper has to be in the game. He made some saves in the last few minutes. We are not changing our style. We discuss it . We want to avail the opportunities. If we don't do that, it leads to pressure. India (is a team that) needs goal in the first few minutes, thanks we could do that today. The way Canada defended, I give credit to them. Canada is not easy for anyone, whoever is thinking Canada is an easy game. India will next play Belgium in its pool match on Sunday.

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