PHOTO: Brenden Bissett battles with Kothajit Khadangbam in Canada’s 3-1 loss to India at the 2016 Azlan Shah Cup.
In a matchup of Olympic-bound teams, India beat Canada’s men’s field hockey team 3-1 in group play Sunday at the 2016 Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia.
The two teams, who will be grouped together at the 2016 Olympic Games, played a close game that ended in a 1-1 scoreline at the end of the first half, and saw India score two second half goals for the win.
David Carter played the full sixty minutes for Canada and was relied upon to keep the Canadians in the game at times, while Canada will be disappointed it did not convert on a few opportunities to score at key points during the game.
The Indians, who are ranked 7th in the world, got off to a quick start, scoring the game’s first goal in the 3rd minute of play when Chandanda Thimmaiah finished off a play that left him alone in front of Carter.
Canada settled into the game quite quickly after that, and at the end of the first quarter had its first real opportunities to tie the game. On a corner, Gordie Johnston was able to release a good dragflick low and to the right of Indian goalkeeper Harjot Singh, but the keeper was just able to get a stick on it and direct it wide.
India went back on the offensive to start the second quarter and forced Carter to make three quick saves in succession to keep the deficit at one.
The saves proved to be timely, as only three minutes later in the 23rd minute, a free hit was played quickly in the midfield by Mark Pearson, who moved the ball to Matthew Sarmento who then found an open Keegan Pereira in the circle.
With Brenden Bissett standing in front as a distraction, Pereira was able to put the ball by keeper Akash Chikte, who came in in relief of Singh in the 16th minute.
The Canadians had a chance to take the lead in the final moments of the half, but couldn’t convert on late two corners. The game was tied at half-time.
In the second, Canada had another opportunity to go ahead, this time off the rush in the 37th minute. Matthew Sarmento received the ball in full flight and spotted a charging Matthew Guest at the far post, but the ball hopped over Guest’s stick and went out the other side.
The Canadians would rue not taking their chances as only four minutes later, India pushed back and earned a corner which was converted by a flick from Harmanpreet Singh in the 41st minute.
Carter came up big on multiple Indian chances in the fourth quarter but the Canadians couldn’t put another by the Indian keeper and took the 3-1 loss.
Next up, Canada will face the host Malaysians in both teams’ next match on Tuesday at 8:35pm in Ipoh (5:35am PT/8:35am ET in Canada). Malaysia and Canada are tied in points with 4, with the hosts holding a game in hand.