After a win in the first match against Argentina, the Indian Men’s hockey team had to settle for a 4-4 stalemate against the reigning Olympics champions in a practice match. The national team head coach, Graham Reid was visibly disappointed with the chances that the Men in Blue missed.
Argentina lost the first practice game against the Indians 3-4 and therefore they fought their heart out in the second game but could only secure a draw at Cenard, Buenos Aires on Wednesday.
“The match was very similar to our first practice game. We had opportunities to close out the match but we didn’t take them,” Reid reflected on the result.
Indian started the game very strongly as Mandeep earned the penalty corner and it was converted by the drag-flicker Varun. However, Leandro Tolini who is in great form scored the equaliser to bring the hosts back in the game. Indian responded strongly to the equaliser and Rajkumar Pal found the back of the net in the 13th minute when he combined well with Nilkantha Sharma who has shown his mettle as an attacking midfielder. Following that goal Indian increased their lead when Lalit Upadhyay earned a penalty corner and Rupinder Pal Singh needed no second invitation to convert it. But Toscani scored a great goal to bring the score to 3-2 at the 23rd minute. India were looking to attack aggressively but did not create many openings.
“Unfortunately, some turnovers in the second half gave them opportunities to come back. You can’t give a team like Argentina chances to get back in the game and not expect them to take it,” expressed Reid.
After half time Argentina were back in the game as midfielder Ignacio Ortiz converted a penalty corner to restore parity. Reid’s men were not shaken by the equaliser as they kept on pushing forward and they got the penalty corner which was smartly converted by Varun who completed his brace.
With all the pressure on the hosts the last quarter started and Argentina had to look for at least another goal. Lucas Martinez came as their saviour as he scored a field goal to end the exciting match in a 4-4 stalemate.
“On the weekend (at the double-header in FIH Hockey Pro League), we need to be more mindful of our thoroughness at both ends of the pitch ensuring we are more frugal in defence and clinical in attack,” Reid concluded.