The Indian men’s hockey team showcased an awe-inspiring performance in their inaugural Asian Games match at the Gongshu Canal Sports Park Stadium in Hangzhou, China, on Sunday, registering an emphatic 16-0 triumph over Uzbekistan.
A plethora of Indian players left an indelible mark on the scoreboard with Lalit Upadhyay notching four goals (7’, 24’ 37’, 53’), Varun Kumar securing a remarkable four goals (12’, 36’, 50’, 51’), and Abhishek (17’), Mandeep Singh (18’, 27’, 28’), Amit Rohidas (38’), Sukhjeet (42’), Shamsher Singh (43’), and Sanjay (57’) all contributing to the commanding victory.
The game witnessed an extraordinary display of skill with three players achieving hat-tricks and a total of eight different scorers, marking a memorable win. This victory propelled the three-time Asian Games champions to the summit of the Asian Games 2023 men’s hockey Pool A standings, where the top two teams from each group will progress to the semi-finals.
India’s men’s hockey squad, ranked third in the FIH Rankings, entered the Hangzhou Games on the heels of their recent triumph in the Asian Champions Trophy 2023. Despite the absence of their captain, Harmanpreet Singh, India launched an aggressive offensive right from the outset, forcing Uzbekistan, ranked 66th in the world, to defend deeply.
India’s relentless pressure on Uzbekistan’s goal yielded immediate results. Within the first seven minutes, Lalit Upadhyay breached Uzbekistan’s defense with a penalty corner, securing India’s first goal. Shortly thereafter, Varun Kumar doubled India’s lead from another penalty corner, ending the first quarter with a 2-0 advantage for India.
The second quarter witnessed India’s continued dominance, with two rapid field goals courtesy of Abhishek and Mandeep Singh. Lalit Upadhyay added his second goal, extending the team’s lead to 5-0. Mandeep Singh then executed two goals in as many minutes, completing his hat-trick and guiding India to a commanding 7-0 lead at halftime.
India maintained their relentless pace after halftime, adding nine more goals to their tally and sealing a resounding 16-0 victory. The Indian men’s hockey team is set to face Singapore in their next match on Tuesday.
Furthermore, it’s worth noting that the men’s hockey tournament at the Asian Games 2023 serves as an Olympic qualifier with the eventual champion securing a coveted berth at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
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