Dilip Tirkey, president of Hockey India, has accused the hosts of blowing numerous opportunities in their knockout match against New Zealand, which ultimately resulted in their unexpected elimination from the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 on Sunday.
Tirkey regretted that after the allotted 60 minutes, India had twice allowed New Zealand to return from a two-goal deficit. The final score was 3-3. India eventually lost 4-5 people to sudden death.
They had many opportunities to win the game. The best defender of his era and former captain Tirkey said that penalty corners are crucial to win matches, and yet in this match, it wasted one after the other.
There were two opportunities to win the penalty shootout. In sudden death, the goalkeepers made two saves, giving us a chance to win, but they also squandered that opportunity. He did not, however, criticize the team. With 412 international appearances, Tirkey holds the record for most appearances for India. He said, “The team has learned from the loss and hoped that they do well in the next match.”
This match had a tense atmosphere from the moment the first whistle blew. The raucous roar of the Kalinga crowd, which usually erupts at the mere touch of an Indian stick, was replaced by a nervous energy that reflected the uneasy Indians on the field.
The history of Indian hockey is rife with tragic heartbreaks, each more agonizing than the last because it brings a team that was so high after winning the bronze medal at the Olympics in Tokyo crashing back to earth.
The highs experienced in Tokyo under the clear sun now seem unimaginably different from the lows experienced on a brisk, uneasy, and ultimately heartbreaking night in Bhubaneswar. Realizing that the hosts had been eliminated from their own World Cup caused gloom in the Indian dugout and the crowd. A hasty departure after New Zealand, who entered this game as the underdog, pulled off one of the year’s biggest upsets.
What Happened During The Game?
India allowed New Zealand to overcome a two-goal deficit in regulation time, and the game ended there despite the loud encouragement of the packed Kalinga Stadium crowd.
The scores remained tied following the first five strikes in the penalty shootout, so sudden death was used to decide the match.
Captain Harmanpreet Singh missed the target and missed a golden opportunity to lead India to victory in sudden death.
In the shootout, India fell behind 2-3, but veteran goalie Sreejesh made two saves. He was hurt while attempting to save another person from sudden death, and Krishan Pathak took his place for the next three rounds of combat.
Finally, Sam Lane scored, and Shamsher Singh missed to give New Zealand the victory.
New Zealand will now face Belgium on Tuesday after taking first place in Pool B.
India earned up to 11 penalty corners in the regulation period and converted two of them, compared to New Zealand’s two PCs. Once again, India had plenty of chances to score, but the forwards lacked finishing ability.
Mandeep Singh, who initiated despite suffering a knee injury during practice on Saturday, made a strong run into the New Zealand circle as India attacked immediately.
However, Sukhjeet Singh swiftly increased India’s lead by scoring in the 24th minute following India’s fourth penalty corner. The New Zealand goalkeeper palmed away Harman Preet’s drag-flick, but it went high, and Sukhjeet was in the right spot at the right time to volley it in.
Sam Lane gave New Zealand a 1-0 lead just before halftime by deflecting a low left-side cross from Child in the Indian goal. India led 2-1 going into the break.
The home team increased its lead by two goals through a penalty corner conversion in the 41st minute as New Zealand pushed for an equalizer in the third quarter and occasionally entered the Indian “D.”
India won 3 penalty corners in the third quarter and scored from the third PC and 7th overall, with Varun Kumar trying to sound the board cleanly.
Kane Russell scored from a penalty corner three minutes later to pull New Zealand within one.
After taking their second penalty corner in the final period, New Zealand mounted a valiant comeback. It levelled the score in the 50th minute when Sean Findlay deflected a Hayden Phillips shot.
In the 51st minute, India was about to lose when goalkeeper Krishan Pathak palmed away a high shot from Sam Hiha.
What Did The Coach Say?
The home team once again controlled their crossover match but twice blew two-goal, leading to the end of regulation time at 3-3. Head coach Graham Reid’s comments earlier in the game suggested that his team could not handle the mental aspect of the game. “Perhaps we should take a different approach. After this, we will work on finding a way to involve a mental coach. An upset Reid said, “I think that is an important part of the team’s future,” at the post-game press conference.
“As far as the exercises or training go, we follow the same procedures as the other teams. I’ve played this game for a while, so I am aware of what the other teams are doing. I believe the mind is the only necessary thing or a silver bullet.
India was given a second chance after Krishan Pathak, who took over for an injured Sreejesh, managed to deny Hayden Phillips. Still, Sukhjeet could not hit the goal this time which made the Indian Fans sad about the defeat.
In the end, New Zealand capitalized on their opportunity after Shamsher’s failed conversion attempt. The Indian players collapsed to the ground as Hayward burst into an impromptu jig just next to the far post and the New Zealand players ran onto the field to celebrate.