Bhubaneswar, 7 December 2014: Host nation India and World Cup Bronze medallists Argentina set up an entertaining and emotional encounter with both teams scoring twice within the same minute. However, Argentina got the better end of this pool B match of the Hero Hockey Champions Trophy taking away the three points because of the late strikes from Agustin Mazzilli and Joaquin Menini.
Pushed forward by the enthusiastic crowd of 7,500 spectators in the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar India created a row of chances in the first quarter. They came up dangerously in the Argentine circle in the early stages but their opening goal was disallowed as the ball hadn’t travelled the required distance before it was brought into the circle.
Towards the end of the first quarter Argentine goalie Manuel Vivaldi saved a terrific deflection from Indian star Sardar Singh. The second quarter saw a Lalit Upadhyay attempt hitting the post.
The home team eventually scored with less than a minute remaining when Akashdeep Singh got the final touch to a long pass coming from midfield and which came in the 30th minute. However, Argentina struck back right away with Lucas Vila equalising from open play in the same minute.
The third quarter started as entertaining as the second quarter had stopped. Again, it was India getting first on the scoreboard. Gurjinder Singh beautifully converted a penalty corner to put the home team ahead in the 37th minute but Juan Lopez levelled the score to 2-2 still in the same minute.
Mazilli’s late strike put India under pressure to equalise but they couldn’t find any reply. Instead, Menini added another one for “Los Leones” to seal the 4-2 victory. While India suffered their second defeat in this tournament, Argentina’s first win brought them up on the second place in the pool.
Speaking on the performance of the team, Coach Roelant Oltmans said “We played good hockey in the first 45 minutes but then in the last quarter the team lost its structure. They were determined to win and hence went completely on the attack and which went against us. We will go back, watch the videos and come back for the match against Netherlands. I am happy the way the team performed for the first 45 minutes but not after that. It was learning today for the team on the mistakes they made today”.
Talking post the match, Captain Sardar Singh said “The first three quarters of the game were played really well by the team but it was only in last quarter where the team failed to maintain good communication with each other. We have to play consistent hockey where we all are able to take quick decisions on field. As a team, we have to work on our finishing and maintain good communication throughout the match, as well as play consistently. It is the best eight teams in the world that are playing here and we are trying to analyse the each team according to their game. We will be working hard to overcome the mistakes that we did today.”
Speaking post the match, Captain Matias Paredes said “It was a tough match; initially they played very well but we ended the game excellently. It was a team effort. The major difference between the two teams was the last quarter, we played good and won the match. From here we are looking forward to the next game and will come strong on Germany”.