Playing in front of the largest crowd of the tournament so far, India secured their spot in Saturday’s 5th place play-off match after defeating Germany 5-4 in the 5-8 classification game. Rupinder Singh scored from a penalty corner securing India’s win in the last minute of the match. This means India will play Belgium for fifth place and Germany will play Argentina for 7/8 places.
A clearly-pleased coach, Terry Walsh, said: "We tried to play our game, and for large sections of the game we did. We certainly matched the Germans; either team could have won. We came back from being 0-2 down to win, that shows the calibre of these guys." Hero Man of the Match, triple goal scorer Mandeep Singh, said: "I had such great service from the team throughout the match." Singh's sharp-shooting won praise from his coach, who said: "When someone is as good in front of goal as this guy, we need to build our team around utilising that talent."
The Olympic champions, who had lost their quarter final 3-2 to the Netherlands, opened the scoring thanks to team-captain Oliver Korn (4’). Thilo Stralkowski (6’) doubled the German lead a couple of minutes later when scoring from a penalty corner. Mandeep Singh (18’) made the home crowd cheer when finishing a promising Indian counter-attack by a successful shot from the top of the circle. However, Benjamin Wess (27’) added another one for Germany.
"Getting structure is the key to development in this side. We need to find a way to combine Indian style and flair with technical structure” said Roelant Oltmans, India's director of performance, at half time.
India got off to a good start in the second half with a double-strike from Rupinder Singh (39’) and Mandeep Singh (41’) to level the score to 3-3. Mandeep Singh (53’) added his third goal of the day when putting India ahead 4-3. Germany then equalised through a penalty corner goal from Martin Häner (55’). “We lost control of the match and then India was there and their spectators as well”, German Tobias Hauke said. Coach Markus Weise agreed: “Today we beat ourselves. We didn’t use our chances.”
The second encounter saw Marc Lammers' Belgium beat Argentina 3-1 in a shoot out, after the match had finished 1-1. This means that Belgium have won their first match in the tournament and Argentina have lost their second shoot out of the tournament.
In the first half Argentina soaked up the Belgium pressure with goal keeper Juan Manuel Vivaldi being called into action to make several consecutive saves. Finally, after 25 minutes of unrelenting pressure from Belgium, Argentina broke down play and a quick counter attack led to Matias Rey (31') scoring the opening goal on his 100th cap.
Lammers summed up his team's problem at half time: "We are playing well, but we have forgotten to score, just like in the other games."
In the first 15 minutes of the second half, Argentina took a more commanding role, with a series of incursions into the Belgium circle. However, Belgium got back into the game, and their equaliser came from an own goal in the 56th minute. In the shoot out, Belgium won 3-1. One of the Argentinians who missed the goal in the shoot out was Agustin Mazzilli. He said: "It is a big disappointment to lose on shoot outs the second time out. We really need to work on it. And now we will give everything to finish seventh."
After the match, Lammers said: "We were better than Argentina but we needed to get more penalty corners. I am happy to be playing for fifth place now, but I think we had some bad luck in games earlier in this tournament." His counterpart, Retegui also felt he had suffered from some bad luck, but he added: "If you told me at the start of this tournament that we would beat the Netherlands and Belgium in the opening matches and only just lose to Australia, I would have not believed you. My players have grown in confidence over the tournament."
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