JAKARTA, Aug 22 (AGENCIES): The Indian men’s hockey team scripted history by thrashing minnows Hong Kong 26-0 in a Pool A encounter at the 18th Asian Games here on Wednesday.
This is the highest ever victory margin by India, breaking a 86-year-old record. The previous highest victory margin was 24-1 against the US at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.
India were off to an explosive start with Akashdeep Singh (2nd minute) Manpreet Singh (3rd), Rupinder Pal Singh (4th, 5th) and S.V. Sunil, who scored twice in the seventh minute giving their team a 6-0 lead within the first seven minutes.
Vivek Sagar Prasad scored with a deflection from close range in the 13th minute to put India 7-0 ahead by the end of the first quarter.
The Indians continued their rampage as Lalit Upadhay (17th, 18th, 35th, 55th) Mandeep (20th, 22nd), Amit Rohidoss (27th), Manpreet (28th), Varun Kumar (28th), Akashdeep (32nd, 39th), Sunil (45th), Dilpreet Singh (47th), Chenglensana Singh (51st), Harmanpreet Singh (52nd, 53rd, 55th), Simranjeet Singh (53rd) and Rupinder (59th) finding the target.
This performance took India’s total score in the tournament thus far to 43 goals in just two matches. The defending champions had thrashed hosts Indonesia 17-0 in their campaign opener.
The Hong Kong players had little chance against a strong Indian defence that kept them from entering the striking circle. Indian goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh was rarely tested with virtually no shots on goal by Hong Kong.
“Though the victory margin is overwhelming, I feel we dropped the pace of our attack a little bit after the half-time. If we had continued the same way we played in the first half, our score line would have been bigger. I don’t think they were complacent but missed scoring from different variations they were attempting,” India coach Harendra Singh said after the match.
While scoring big wins against minnows like Indonesia and Hong Kong China was a given, India will next face a potentially tricky Japan on Friday, followed by formidable South Korea on August 26.
“We need to keep up this momentum going into the next two matches where both teams will challenge the Indian attack and they are good with their counter attacks, so we must be very cautious with our defence too and not allow chances for counter attacks. We must play to our strength and be focused on getting past our first hurdle of making the semi-final as Pool A topper,” Singh asserted.