Indian hockey team beats Spain 2-1 in practice game

Indian hockey team beats Spain 2-1 in practice game

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 2 (IANS) Akashdeep and Rupinder Pal Singh scored as the Indian men’s hockey team defeated Spain 2-1 in a practice match ahead of the Olympic Games here.

Incidentally, Indians had lost two practice games to Spain in Madrid before coming here. But on Sunday evening they played at a good pace and the goals came to give the Indians a great preparation.

While forward Akashdeep showed his finishing skills, Rupinder sounded the board via a penalty corner.

Skipper P.R. Sreejesh said: “The weather was very hot in Spain. We were coming from very good weather in Bengaluru and it was very hot and humid, almost 40 degrees in Madrid.

“So it was good to get a game in Rio against Spain and we played well.”

There will be another training session or two and then a second practice match against another team.

The Indians are looking at their first medal in hockey since 1980, when they won a gold. Earlier India have won eighth gold medals from 1928 onwards. They also have a silver medal in 1960 and bronze in 1968 and 1972.

India will open their campaign against Ireland on August 6.

Meanwhile, Australia were much improved in their second practice match, running out 5-2 winners over arch-rivals Germany thanks to a double from Blake Govers and strikes from Jake Whetton, Eddie Ockenden and reserve athlete Jeremy Hayward.

The performance was a marked improvement on their 0-3 defeat to Argentina 24 hours earlier, played at a higher tempo with more energy and a customary Australia-Germany intensity.

The men in green and gold raced into a two goal lead, only to be pegged back by a typically resolute Germany before the first break. A goalless second period had the game delicately poised going into the final quarter of an hour, before three strikes in a feisty final period earned Australia victory.

“We want to get better every day,” said midfielder Eddie Ockenden, playing in his third Olympic Games. “It was a big improvement in attitude and also our skills. That was pleasing.

“We’ve never travelled 11 hours time difference so we didn’t really know how we’d be feeling. We want to get better every day, get over the jetlag, start training better and harder. And we’ll be looking for further improvement in our final practice game against Ireland on Wednesday.”

Austraia chief coach Graham Reid: “It was a better performance tonight. “We were asking for a bit more tone and energy from them. We started really well, which was one of the bigger things we were trying to do tonight because last night we started poorly.

“They were up and about today, which is good. But then we let Germany back in. I think we took our foot off the pedal and let them back in, then it was a much better final third.”

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