India blank Singapore 15-1 in Olympic qualifier

India's hockey men kick off their journey to London Olympics in splendid fashion... with an emphatic victory over Singapore

Fifty-four shots on goal told the story as India mauled Singapore 15-1 to start their campaign in the 2012 Olympic Qualifying competition on a rousing note here on Saturday. Singapore had come in as a last-minute replacement when the United States withdrew.

India's Yuvraj Walmiki scores a goal against Singapore at the Major
Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on Saturday. Pic/AFP

It was a tough hockey lesson for Singapore and they did look impressive in defence as they held the hosts away for the first 10 minutes of the match. But once the flood gates were opened by a Baljit Singh Chandi strike, the flow of goals was uninterrupted. Chandi playing after a five-match ban, was in his elements and bagged a hat-trick.

Shivender Singh, SV Sunil and Danish Mujtaba scored a brace each. The Indians were in their elements as the midfield held sway. Sardar Singh looked the most impressive as he weaved in and out of the Singapore defence. Providing ample support was Tushar Khandekar, Danish Mujtaba, and Shivender Singh. 

At the break, India were 6-0. Nine goals came in the second half as the combination of Mujtaba, Uthapa, Yuvraj and Sunil Kumar almost scored at will. Singapore pulled one back in the 40th minute when a defence lapse ensured that Enrico Marican drilled the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Bharat Chhetri.

If there was reason to worry for India, it was the conversion rate of penalty corners. India earned five and could score off only one, a rather awkward conversion by Sandeep Singh, his powerful flick deflecting off a defender's stick and taking an angular route.  Sardar Singh was delighted with the performance: "After the SA Tests, we were playing for the first time and everything worked well." Sardar, admitted that there were concerns about the penalty corner conversion. 

Earlier in the day...
The women's team was held to a shock 1-1 draw by Ukraine. They play Canada today.

Coach unimpressed
India's coach Michael Nobbs was unimpressed with the team's 15-1 win over Singapore. "I am never satisfied. We are not even close to our peak," the Australian said after India registered its biggest win over Singapore.  Nobbs, however, was happy with the speed India played against Singapore.

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