Ranked third in the world, India entered the match as clear favourites against the 66th-ranked Uzbekistan team, and they lived up to expectations by controlling the proceedings throughout the game.
Asian Games Day 1
Lalit Upadhyay scored four goals in the 7th, 24th, 37th, and 53rd minutes, while Varun Kumar contributed four goals as well in the 12th, 36th, 50th, and 52nd minutes. Mandeep Singh found the net three times in the 18th, 27th, and 28th minutes. Abhishek (17th), Amit Rohidas (38th), Sukhjeet (42nd), Shamsher Singh (43rd), and Sanjay (57th) also added to India’s goal tally.
India’s captain, Harmanpreet Singh, did not play in the match as he was rested after jointly bearing the flag along with Olympic medalist boxer Lovlina Borgohain during the opening ceremony of the Asian Games.
India dominated the game, taking just seven minutes to break the deadlock. While they earned 14 penalty corners during the match, they converted five, which might be a concern for chief coach Craig Fulton. However, their forward-line combined well with the midfield to score 10 goals, while the other goal came from a penalty stroke in the 36th minute.
Mandeep Singh stood out in the forward line, not only by scoring but also by setting up goals with his exceptional dribbling skills.
India’s victory began with Lalit’s rebound goal after Uzbek goalkeeper Davlat Tolibbaev made a double save. Varun doubled India’s lead with a powerful low flick from a penalty corner in the 12th minute.
Abhishek added to India’s tally in the 17th minute after being set up brilliantly by Mandeep. Mandeep himself scored two quick goals just before half-time.
India led 7-0 at halftime, and their dominance continued in the second half. The team displayed a formidable performance, scoring nine more goals to complete a comprehensive victory.
India’s next match in the pool will be against Singapore on Tuesday, and they will aim to continue their winning momentum in the competition.
(With inputs from PTI)