India off to rousing start in Ipoh


Young strikers Mandeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh netted two goals each as India blanked minnows Oman 8-0 to start their 9th Asia Cup hockey championship campaign on a strong note at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium here on Saturday.
India scored four apiece on either side of the break in their Pool A game.
Mandeep (4th minute, 40th) and debutant Ramandeep (17th, 44th) led the way while V.R. Raghunath (28th), Rupinderpal Singh (34th), Malak Singh (47th) and S.K. Uthappa (69th) completed the rout.
In the opening half, a majority of India’s build ups came from the right flank with Ramandeep and Malak combining well.
Said interim coach Roelant Oltmans, “We played very well in the first half, but in the second we were a bit sloppy. But it happens because it is difficult to give your 100 per cent concentration throughout the match, especially when you are 7-0, 8-0 up.
“But I am happy with the overall performance.”
In other Pool A matches, Pakistan blanked Japan 7-0, while Malaysia demolished Chinese Taipei 10-2.
India earned their first penalty corner in the third minute but Rupinderpal’s flick was saved by Oman goalkeeper Al Noufali Fahad Khamis Salmeen. An opportunistic Mandeep scored from the resultant rebound for a 1-0 lead.
India struck again in the 17th minute through an unmarked Ramandeep who scored after receiving a Malak assist.
Drag-flicker Raghunath made it 3-0 in the 28th minute, scoring off a short corner conversion. The team could have added another in the next minute but Rupinderpal’s hit from inside the ‘Dee’ was saved by the Oman custodian.
Just a minute from the breather, India increased their lead through Rupinderpal who converted the team’s fifth penalty corner. It took India just five minutes into the second half to find the back of the net, Mandeep scored his second goal of the day with a reverse flick, while Ramandeep added another a few minutes later.
Three minutes later, it was Malak’s turn to register his name on the score-sheet, while Uthappa rounded off the tally a minute from the hooter.

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