Oman: The Indian Men’s Hockey Team booked a spot in the Semi-Finals of the Men’s Asian Hockey 5s World Cup Qualifier on Thursday after recording a thumping win over Japan and Malaysia.
India beat Malaysia 7-5 with Gurjot Singh (7′, 11′, 17′, 29′ 30′) scoring five goals, and Maninder Singh (12′), and Mohammed Raheel (21′) getting a goal each against the opponents. Relentless India pushed past Japan with a stunning 35-1 win in their last Elite Group stage game with Maninder Singh (1′, 3′ 5, 6′, 9′, 15′, 20′, 24′, 25′, 29′), Mohammed Raheel (3′, 4′, 11′, 12′, 17′, 26, 26′), Pawan Rajbhar (2′, 6′, 10′, 13′, 23′), Gurjot Singh (12′, 20′, 21′, 27′, 30′), Sukhvinder (4′, 8′, 16′, 22′), Captain Mandeep Mor (18′, 23′, 29′), and Jugraj Singh (15′) scoring goals in the match.
India will play their next match against the winner of Crossover 2.2, which will be played between Malaysia and the winner of Crossover 1.1. It must be noted that Japan and Iran will face off later today in Crossover 1.1 to earn a chance to face Malaysia in Crossover 2.2.
A victory in the Semi-Final will not only secure a spot in the Final for India but will also guarantee a spot in the 2024 FIH Hockey 5s World Cup. The top three teams in the tournament will earn qualification for the 2024 FIH Hockey 5s World Cup.
Speaking on the upcoming match, Mandeep Mor, who is leading the Indian troops said that his side will be ready for the competition, irrespective of their opponents.
“When we entered the tournament, our aim was to get a podium finish to secure a direct qualification for the 2024 FIH Hockey 5s World Cup. We are close to achieving the target and irrespective of which team we face in the Semi-Finals, we will be ready and look to earn a win,” he said.
India finished in the second position in the Elite pool table with 12 points in 5 games. India began their campaign at the Men’s Asian Hockey 5s World Cup Qualifier with a solid 15-1 win over Bangladesh in Salalah, Oman, on Tuesday. On Day 2 of the tournament, India scripted a stunning 12-2 win over Oman but went down 4-5 against Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Malaysia finished third in the Elite pool stage winning 10-4 against Oman in their first game followed by an 18-2 win over Japan, a 10-5 win over Bangladesh, a 5-7 loss to India, and a 5-5 draw against Pakistan.
On the other hand, Japan had a tough tournament, losing 1-26 to Pakistan, losing 2-18 to Malaysia, losing 4-14 to Oman, losing 3-10 to Bangladesh, and going down 1-35 to India to finish at the bottom of the Elite pool table.
Iran finished on top of the Challenger Pool table, winning their first game 7-2 against Hong Kong, and then going past Indonesia with a 5-3 win. Iran defeated Kazakhstan 12-8 and won 12-2 against Afghanistan.
“We do not take any opponents lightly. We have already faced Malaysia and Japan in the tournament and have gained an understanding of their strengths and the areas we need to target. We will hope to achieve similar results against them if we meet them in the Semi-Final. Meanwhile, Iran have been in good form in the tournament as well and we have studied their matches and will prepare our strategies accordingly,” Mandeep Mor said.
A win in the Semi-Final will give India a chance to compete for the title in the Final which will take place on Saturday. A defeat, however, will mean India would have to compete in the 3rd/4th place match on Saturday.
“Our team is aiming for the trophy. We have been in good form this tournament and we have started finding our rhythm as a unit. We feel we have a good chance of going all the way, book a spot in the final and challenge for the trophy,” Mandeep Mor signed off.
India will play against Malaysia, Japan or Iran in the second Semi-Final at 1330 hrs IST on Saturday.
The 3rd/4th place finish match of the tournament will be played at 1830 hrs IST on Saturday and the final will be played at 1930 hrs IST on Saturday.