Hockey Olympic Qualifiers: Manpreet Singh Hopes For India's Better Display In Second Leg
India need to do better in penalty corner conversions and improve their energy levels in the second leg on Saturday, said captain Manpreet Singh.
They may have beaten Russia 4-2 in the 1st leg of their Olympic qualifier on Friday, but India need to do better in penalty corner conversions and improve their energy levels in the second leg on Saturday, said captain Manpreet Singh after the match at the Kalinga Stadium. Ranked 22nd in the world, Russia, who lost 0-10 against India in the previous meeting between the two sides, ensured that the second leg of the qualifier doesn't end up being a formality by scoring twice in the first leg.
"We did not play up to the mark. We need to play better tomorrow than we did today. They also have come here for the qualification, so tomorrow is the most important day," Manpreet said in the post-match presentation ceremony.
India earned a number of penalty corners in the match, including two in the final minute. While the last two and one other were brilliantly saved by Russian goalkeeper Marat Gafarov, India left a lot to be desired in the others.
"We created chances. We couldn't covert the PCs because there were a lot of errors. We need to improve upon them tomorrow.
"We also need to improve our energy levels. I think our energy levels weren't that strong today. We need to watch our game and come back strongly tomorrow," Manpreet said.
India women's hockey team skipper Rani Rampal hailed the team's 5-1 win in the first leg of the Olympic qualifiers, saying it was a fantastic performance.
"I think we played fantastic hockey. Today's match is done and we will now focus on winning the second match tomorrow," Rampal said after the match.
The Indian team put one foot in the Tokyo Olympics next year by registering a 5-1 victory over the United States at the Kalinga Stadium on Friday.
India scored four goals in 11 minutes after halftime to kill the tie as Gurjeet Kaur scored a brace.
Erin Matson scored a consolation goal for the USA in the 54th minute from a penalty stroke and the 13th-ranked away side got a a host of chances to reduce the deficit in the dying minutes but it was not enough. In the end the hosts took a huge step towards the Tokyo Olympics.
In the second leg on Saturday, the USA will need a miracle to harbour any hopes of making the Olympics cut.
The team with the highest number of goals over the two matches will qualify for the Olympics. If both the teams are tied on goals after the second-leg, then there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.