India overcome Germany 5-4 to win a medal after 41 years

Tokyo: India fought back brilliantly from a two-goal deficit to beat Germany 5-4 in a high-intensity goal-fest to win bronze, the country’s first medal in men’s hockey at the Olympics after a gap of 41 years.

It was a dream come true for billions of hockey fans as India came back from 1-3 down to score an impressive 5-4 win that reminded its fans of the glory days when the Indians were a force to reckon with in world hockey.

Simranjeet Singh (17th, 34th) scored a brace of goals while Hardik Singh (27th min), Harmanpreet Singh (29th min) and Rupinderpal Singh (31st min) scored a goal apiece for India while for Germany Timur Cruz (2nd min), Niklas Wellen (24th min), Benedict Furk (25th min) and Lukas Windfeder (48th min) were on target.

India unleashed a four-goal blitz in four minutes as they came roaring back after being pinned down 1-3 by the Germans who started aggressively and created good pressure by going full press from the start itself.

But the Indians took control of the midfield, capitalised on the gaps created by the hard-pressing Germans, and counter-attacked brilliantly, cutting the German defence to shreds in that four-minute period that left the opponents shocked.

Till that time, it looked like Tobias Hauke’s side had taken control of the match as they opened the scoring in the second minute of their first attack and then scored twice within a minute as they took control of the proceedings with a 3-1 lead.

But the Indians were not done yet, they scored two goals of their own in the 27th and 29th minute through Hardik and Harmanpreet Singh, the latter powering a brilliant drag-flick into the German goal, capitalising on swift counter-attacks. The score was 3-3 at half-time and both teams had a lot to play for.

The Indians continued with the momentum in the third quarter and a minute after the restart, earned a penalty stroke when Mandeep Singh was brought down by Oruz in the shooting circle. Rupinderpal Singh’s push had too much power for German goalkeeper Alexander Stadler, who guessed the direction but could not get down fast enough to stop it.

And India made things more difficult for Germany when Simranjeet Singh was on target again in the 34th minute after he was set up by Gurjant Singh, who made a good run to the goal-line and sent a minus ball inside the circle.

Earlier, India made a slow start and were down a goal within two minutes as Germany went ahead when Timur Oruz shot home an opportunistic field goal.

 

Bronze for us is as good as gold: Sreejesh’s mother

Kochi: Even when India held on to the lead that they had in the crucial clash with Germany in Tokyo, thousands of miles away from there at the house of Indian goalkeeper Sreejesh, it was anxious moments.

And when the final whistle blew, it was celebrations at his house and his mother could not hide her emotions as she said, “The bronze medal is as good as we have won the gold.”

“This is his third Olympics and on the previous two occasions, he had to return empty handed. But this time it’s not so, he is returning with a medal. Though it is bronze, for us the bronze medal is as good as we have won the gold,” said the mighty pleased mother of Sreejesh.

Right from early morning on Thursday, the house of Sreejesh was a crowded one with all glued to the TV.

After the historic win, the entire family celebrated the victory by lighting firecrackers and distributing sweets.

Sreejesh’s wife, Aneesha, an Ayurveda doctor also could not hide her emotions. She said it was the desire of Sreejesh to win an Olympic medal.

“And true to his desire, India has won a medal and we just cannot express our happiness. He just called me and when the call came our joy increased much more. He said he might come here on August 10th, but was not sure,” said Aneesha.

Sreejesh’s father said all he can do is to thank each and every Indian who prayed for the success of Team India.

Sreejesh is a former captain of the national side and is presently employed as the Chief sports Organiser with the Kerala Education department.

He presently plays for Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the Hockey Indian League and in 2017 the country decorated him with a Padma Shri.

Image courtesy of (ET)

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