An inconsistent India wasted chances galore to finish a disappointing sixth in the Hero Hockey World League Semifinals after being stunned 2-3 by lowly Canada on Sunday. It was India’s second upset defeat against a lower-ranked side in the tournament after having lost to Malaysia in the quarterfinals. Gordon Johnston (3rd, 44th minutes) scored two goals while Keegan Pereira (40th) found the net once for the 11th ranked Canadians. Harmanpreet Singh (7th, 22nd) converted two of India’s nine penalty corners.
By virtue of this win, Canada not only finished fifth in the tournament but also qualified for next year’s World Cup, to be held in the Indian city of Bhubaneswar.
The loss, although, didn’t deter sixth-ranked India’s qualification to the Hockey World League Final, to be held later this year, and the World Cup
India started the encounter as the overwhelming favourites having defeated the same opponents 3-0 in the pool stages, but the script panned out to be completely different as, with a World Cup berth at stake, Canada played with great determination and gave their higher-ranked rivals a run for their money.
Even though India dominated the share of possession and had more shots at the goal compared to their opponents, Canada surprised their rivals when it mattered the most with some great counter-attacks.
India continued their dismal performance from penalty corners as they converted just two out of nine they earned in the match. Canada took the lead early on in the game when Johnston converted a penalty corner in the third minute.
But Harmanpreet drew parity four minutes later from a penalty corner. In the second quarter, the Indians secured their third penalty corner but Harmanpreet’s low flick was saved by goalkeeper Antoni Kindler, who was brilliant under the Canadian goal today.
Seconds later, Harmanpreet again wasted another penalty corner for India before the dragflicker found the target in the 2nd minute with a powerful low flick to hand his side the lead. Canada mostly relied on defending in numbers and surprising India on counters.
The Canadians too were dismal with penalty corners, converting just one of the five they earned in the entire 60 minutes. In the 26th minute, Talwinder’s effort, after a fine interchange with Akashdeep Singh, was saved by an alert Kindler.
India secured their sixth penalty corner in the 27th minute but Harmanpreet was off the mark to go into the breather with a marginal 2-1 lead.
After the change of ends, India secured two more short corners but to no avail. The missed chances cost India dearly as Canada struck twice in a span of four minutes to stun the Indians.
Keegan Pereira first levelled the scores in the 40th minute, pushing in Mark Pearson’s cross before Johnston scored the winner with a reverse hit four minutes later.
Down by a goal with just a quarter to left, the Indians went all out attacking and secured two more penalty corners but, as has been the case in the tournament, who produced some brilliant saves including a breathtaking effort to deny Mandeep Singh in the 50th minute.