When Jarmanpreet Singh put India ahead off a penalty corner in just the fourth minute of the second match played on Tuesday, German coach Kais al Saadi‘s team must have feared a similar fate as the one they met in the first match last Sunday. But after a goal-less 24 minutes that followed, the seasoned Martin Haner equalised for the hosts.
“We didn’t let the early unfortunate deficit throw us off track.” That statement from skipper Tobias Hauke almost confirmed the fears at the back of German minds.
FT: 🇩🇪 1 – 1 🇮🇳What a thrilling way to end our day!Congratulations to @DHB_hockey and the #MenInBlue on today’s… https://t.co/Kh9kvSv4Io
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The traditional tenacity associated with the Rio Olympics bronze medallist came to the fore in the last two quarters. They slowed down the pace of the game, spread the ball around and cut down on the counterattacks that India thrives on.
“The emotion and atmosphere were better. Even the players on the bench gave us a lot of encouragement and support. We played India well in parts; however, we didn’t create enough danger,” said coach Saadi, whose objective in these two games was to get the team ready for their FIH Pro League fixture against Netherlands next month.
“One big area of improvement is certainly the coordination within the team with so many players from different clubs…today was a good step forward,” he added.
(Martin Haner, centre, celebrates after scoring the equaliser for Germany – Photo by Hockey India)
The German skipper agreed with his coach.
“It was the right step towards the Pro League,” said Hauke. “We defended grippingly in one-on-one [situations], were able to create a sense of community and — despite the lack of spectators — an international-match atmosphere on the pitch. The team needs such emotions.”
Hauke added that to expect a lot amid the pandemic and playing after long intervals won’t be fair on the players.
“Of course, not everything went well today [Tuesday]; that would also be a miracle after the long coronavirus break.
“But we have fulfilled all the goals that we had set ourselves for the game today [Tuesday]. Of course, we would have liked to win, but that’s not important right now,” the skipper concluded.
(Graphic by Hockey India)
India will now move to Belgium, where they will take on Great Britain on March 6 and 8 in their last two matches on the tour of Europe.