The winter in Krefeld had been kind and less harsh ever since the Indian team landed in Germany. But the most desired outcome of the tour arrived in the opening game itself. A win with a five-goal margin against Germany is not a scoreline India have managed often against the Rio Olympics bronze medallists.
Some on Twitter, including former India captain Viren Rasquinha, weren’t sure if it was the first-choice German team. But Timesofindia.com was told the only big players missing from the Germany squad were attacking midfielders Timm Herzbruch and Mats Grambusch and striker Niklas Wellen.
@rajeshkalra @Phogat_Vinesh Also I am not sure if this was a full German squad or not. I havent been following worl… https://t.co/CRfY6T6mI4
— Viren Rasquinha (@virenrasquinha) 1614525575000
But that takes nothing away from India’s effort. In fact, the hosts too are without established names like regular skipper Manpreet Singh, drag-flicker Rupinderpal Singh and striker SV Sunil for the tour.
The result did make Germany admit that India “punished” them for mistakes, with goals from the sticks of Nilakanta Sharma (13th minute), Vivek Sagar Prasad (27th & 27th), Lalit Upadhyay (41st), Akashdeep Singh (42nd) and Harmanpreet Singh (47th).
In fact, it brought back memories of September 2020 for Germany. On their return to the field when the Pro League resumed last year following the Covid-19 lockdown, Belgium thrashed the Germans with an identical scoreline of 6-1.
(Photo: Hockey India Twitter)
“It was similar to the first [Pro League] game against Belgium in Dusseldorf [last September], where we also had a lot of game shares and chances but lost by a similar margin. However, we didn’t use our many opportunities and [penalty] corners, and India then punished us for it,” said star striker Christopher Ruhr after the match.
“There were clearly too many stick errors and individual mistakes on our part…That cost us the flow…which is annoying because we felt we were the better team,” he added.
Germany coach Kais Al Saadi, however, looked at the broader picture. While he admitted such results are “frustrating”, his team’s objective is to be in shape for Netherlands in their Pro League fixture next month.
Welcome back to the International Hockey boys 💪.Good start 👌#german #tour #preparation #olympic #hockey #teamindia… https://t.co/hx7lesOqfd
— sreejesh p r (@16Sreejesh) 1614523623000
“…against India [it is] mainly about development, but if the result looks like this in the end, it is, of course, still frustrating,” coach Saadi said after the defeat on Sunday.
“…the anticipation of finally being able to play again was huge. That has now been abruptly curbed by the 1-6 [defeat]. But now we have to shake ourselves up, clean up and do our homework. And if that ends up costing us two frustrating results here in Krefeld to get on track, then that’s just the way it is,” he added.
Germany’s only goal in the game came when Constantin Staib levelled scores at 1-1 in the 14th minute. But that was the only thing to cheer about in the hosts’ dugout across the four quarters.
“We controlled India well again and again, but made a lot of technical mistakes in the Indian circle and then it felt like every counterattack went wrong,” Al Saadi analysed.
@hockeyind Like to see DD Sports telecast live all overseas matches of Indian national hockey teams which private b… https://t.co/xJwSv2cYCC
— Manu E (@Manu733149) 1614423097000
Fans and experts alike couldn’t watch any of that action. Timesofindia.com learnt that the two coaches, India’s Graham Reid and Germany’s Saadi, had decided to not allow live-streaming of Sunday’s game since it was the first for both the teams in months.
While the two coaches must have their reasons for it, hockey-hungry fans felt they were robbed of action.
The encouraging bit, though, is that the second unofficial Test on Tuesday [March 2] will be streamed live.
Apart from International Hockey Federation’s [FIH] ‘Watch Hockey’ mobile application, the game will also be produced by the organizing HTC Crefelder in a livestream that will be broadcast on CHTC TV’s YouTube channel.