India eye another big win in men’s hockey, play Hong Kong tomorrow

Jakarta: With their campaign was off to a rousing start with a record win, defending champions India will be eyeing another massive victory when they take on lowly Hong Kong China in their second pool match of the Asian Games here tomorrow.

India hammered hosts Indonesia 17-0 in their opening Pool A match yesterday, thereby registering their highest victory margin in the history of the Asian Games. India’s previous highest margin of win was a 12-0 rout of Iran in 1974 and Bangladesh in 1982.

The level of competition in Asian Games is by no means comparable to the world standard but a 17-0 walloping of any country can definitely be seen as a moral booster for India.

Ranked fifth in the world, the highest among the Asian countries, India are tipped the firm favourites to win their second consecutive Asian Games title. A title here is of huge importance for India coach Harendra Singh and he has already stated that anything less than a gold is not acceptable. The Asian Games gold will earn India a direct entry to the Tokyo Olympics and provide them ample time to prepare best for the quadrennial extravaganza in 2020.

It is expected to be another goalfest for India against Hong Kong China, who are ranked 45th in the world. Against Indonesia yesterday, as many as nine Indian players registered their names in the scoresheet, including a hat-trick each from Dilpreet Singh, Simranjeet Singh and Mandeep Singh. And come tomorrow, the Indians would like to carry on the goal-scoring spree to lift their confidence ahead of other pool matches against Japan (on August 24), Korea (August 26) and Sri Lanka (August 28).

Harendra is expected to continue experimenting with his plans and personnel against Hong Kong China as well to provide all the players of his squad enough game time before the business end of the tournament.