India stunned world champions Germany 3-2 in their FIH Pro League 2022-23 Hockey opener in Rourkela on Friday. This was India’s first match after a disappointing World Cup campaign.
Also Read: FIH Pro League 2022-23 full schedule and fixtures
Several players were dropped after India’s World Cup pre-quarterfinal exit in January. But 26-year-old Sukhjeet Singh survived, and struck twice in the second half, scoring field goals in the 31st and 42nd minutes in the FIH Pro League 2022-23. While captain Harmanpreet Singh, who is the joint top scorer in the tournament so far, gave the team the lead by converting a penalty corner in the 30th minute at the Birsa Munda Stadium. Harmanpreet could not perform well in Bhubaneswar and the World Cup held here.
India took a 3–0 lead by the 42nd minute before Paul-Philipp Kaufmann and Michel Struthoff scored for Germany in the 44th and 57th minutes respectively. Meanwhile, many players from the World Cup-winning team were present in the German team. But they were struggling to score goals from the penalty corner. Germany got six penalty corners while India got four penalty corners. The visitors started off brilliantly and earned five consecutive penalty corners in the 10th minute. But India kept their composure and defended well in all of them.
Striker Abhishek’s effort in the circle at the end of the second quarter gave India the momentum they were striving for. Earlier, the efforts of strikers Gurjant Singh and Dilpreet Singh were thwarted by Germany goalkeeper Alexander Stadler. Just before half-time, the home side earned their first penalty corner and Harmanpreet’s brilliant effort gave his side a 1-0 lead. Harmanpreet was retained as captain despite the sacking of head coach Graham Reid after the World Cup. With this lead, India started aggressively in the third quarter. Sukhjeet scored the second goal for India in the 31st minute on a brilliant pass by Jarmanpreet Singh.
Also Read: Most goals in FIH Pro League 2022
Then after 11 minutes, Sukhjeet scored again. He scored his second goal of the match with the help of talented youngster S Karthi on Manpreet Singh’s long pass. India kept the German attack away after this. But the visiting team managed to score at the end of the third quarter thanks to Paul-Philipp. In the final moments of the match, India played a great defensive game in which Germany brought out their goalkeeper and included an extra player in their attack.
Germany scored their second goal two minutes before the end of the match thanks to Michel Struthoff, who assisted Hannes Muller. In the last minute of the match, India got a penalty stroke. But Harmanpreet could not convert it, giving India three points with a 3-2 victory. India will now face Australia on Sunday. While the second-leg match against Germany will happen on Monday in the FIH Pro League 2022-23.