The Indian men’s hockey team will look to envision their chances of clinching at least one silver medal in the Commonwealth Games as they start as strong contenders against lower-ranked South Africa in the first semi-final in Birmingham on Saturday. South Africa gave the Indians a golden opportunity after beating defending champions New Zealand in their final match, finishing second behind six-time champions Australia in Pool A. India, on the other hand, finished on top of Pool B ahead of England to avoid Australia in the last four rounds.
The Indian team has been unbeaten in the tournament so far, registering three wins and one draw. South Africa, on the other hand, have registered two wins and one draw and one loss.
Looking at current form and world stature, the world number 5 Indian will start as a strong contender against world number 13 South Africa.
India’s vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh tops the goalscorers’ chart with nine goals. He converted eight penalty corners and scored a goal from the spot.
If Harmanpreet weren’t enough, the presence of Varun Kumar, Jugraj Singh and Amit Rohidas gives India wide variations in the penalty corners.
While skipper Manpreet Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad have been the backbone of India’s midfielders, Neelkant Sharma has impressed everyone with his performances in the tournament so far.
On the front lines, the always dependable Mandeep Singh has been a livewire. He has not only created opportunities, but has put himself in the right position at the right time to score some of the best goals of the hunt.
In Mandeep, Lalit Upadhyay, Shamsher Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Abhishek, the Indians claimed a formidable strike force and the South African defense would have to play with their skin to keep them under control.
The only blot for India in the Games so far has been the match against England, in which they were leading 3–0 at one stage before a lapse in concentration and indiscipline allowed the home team to finish the game in a 4–4 stalemate. Gave.
India want to make a disciplined effort and avoid unnecessary cards which cost them against England.
Harmanpreet said winning the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics has instilled confidence in the team.
“We have learned a lot about ourselves as a team at the Tokyo Olympics, which has helped us improve as a team. But first we are aiming for tomorrow’s match and we are all set,” he said. “
Meanwhile, South Africa will be full of confidence after thrashing high-ranked New Zealand.
South Africa are known to sit back and surprise their opponents with swift counter-attacks.
“It doesn’t matter who we play in the semi-finals, we’ll just focus on that game and see what happens,” said drag-flicker Conor Beauchamp.
Australia will face hosts England in the second semi-final.
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