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Hosts India make perfect start in World Cup hockey

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Bhubaneswar, India: Pool A and Pool D got under way on day 1 of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 as the action began in eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar and finished in Rourkela.

In Bhubaneswar, Argentina were the first to get on the board, registering a close 1-0 win against South Africa. Australia then went top of Pool A with a dominant 8-0 win against France, who played well despite the unflattering scoreline.

Action then shifted to Rourkela where England got the better of neighbours Wales, winning 5-0. It was then home team India’s turn against a tricky Spanish team that has caused them some trouble over the past year in the FIH Hockey Pro League. But after overcoming early nerves, the Indian attack dominated and claimed a 2-0 win to get 3 crucial points in the Pool D encounter.

India blank Spain 2-0

The Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela was packed to the rafters as home team India took on rivals Spain in a big Pool D encounter to close day 1 of the World Cup.

Spain started the game on the front foot causing India some nervy moments, but India settled down soon and were in front by the end of first quarter as Amit Rohidas capitalised on a blocked drag flick by Harmanpreet to bury a shot in the goal, which was India’s 200th goal in the competition. India struck again before the half through a goal by Hardik to take a solid 2-0 lead into the half.

All attempts by the Spanish attack to get a goal back were also well stopped by the Indian defence, led brilliantly by goalkeeper Krishan Pathak, as India carried their 2-0 lead into the full-time whistle and secured 3 crucial points in Pool D.

Home favourite Amit Rohidas was awarded the player of the match and said: “Playing here felt really good, and this was a great win. Thank you to the crowd who turned up in such huge numbers and cheered us on so loudly.”

Argentina edge South Africa

Both Argentina and South Africa set a fast tone for the World Cup playing all-out attacking hockey in the first quarter. Both goalkeepers had to be on constant alert as the ball entered the circle multiple times for both teams, but neither team could produce a real threat on the goal.

Argentina did finally manage to break the deadlock in the 43rd minute through a field goal as Maico Casella got in front of Gowan Jones and a slight deflection on a shot by Toscani unsighted the in-form keeper.

Maico Casella was awarded the player of the match and said: “Good to win the first match, we played well enough. I think the positive we take is the number of penalty corners we won, and we will start converting more going forward.”

Australia thrash France 8-0

Australia were quick off the blocks showing why they are the early tournament favourites. They got the first goal of the game thanks to a brilliant run by Tom Craig as he split the defence, passed to Tim Brand and got a deflection on Craig’s shot to cap off the fantastic move. France were much better in the second quarter but failed to capitalise on their chances and Australia made them pay with 3 goals in the final 4 minutes.

Australia had all the momentum going into the half and were quick to get going in the second half as a beautiful team move saw 4 players touch the ball in the circle before it was tapped home by Tom Craig. Jeremy Hayward then scored his third penalty corner goal to complete a smashing hat-trick. Tom Brand added a third as well in the 45th minute to become the second Australian to grab a hat-trick. Australia cruised through the final quarter adding one more goal through Tom Wickham to cap off a great 8-0 win and take all 3 points.

Hat-trick hero Tom Craig was awarded player of the match and said: “Good to get the goals but better feeling winning. We haven’t played tournament hockey since July last year, but we prepared well for this and hopefully we get even better going forward.”

England smash Wales 5-0

England made a fantastic start to the game as Nicholas Park scored within the first 20 seconds to stun Wales and grab an early lead. England scored at the perfect time again, doubling their lead through a Liam Ansell penalty corner goal with just 2 minutes left in the half, leaving Wales to try and chase the game in the second half.

England scored twice in the 3rd quarter to gain total control of the game. Liam Ansel scored his second goal of the game in the 38th minute from a penalty corner, and Phil Roper opened his account with a field goal in the 42nd minute to put the game beyond Wales’ reach. Wales committed heavily to the attack in the final quarter trying to claw a goal back, but England stood firm and scored a 5th goal through Nicholas Bandurak in the 57th minute to seal a perfect win and 3 points for England.

Sam Ward was awarded player of the match and said: “Could not have asked for a better start to the tournament. Just want to keep the momentum going from here on out and into the next game against India.”

FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Day 1 Results

Argentina 1-0 South Africa

Player of the Match: Maico Casella (ARG)

Australia 8-0 France

Player of the Match: Tom Craig (AUS)

England 5-0 Wales

Player of the Match: Sam Ward (ENG)

India 2-0 Spain

Player of the Match: Amit Rohidas (IND)

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