Title holders Australia struggle past Ireland 2-1

Title holders Australia struggle past Ireland 2-1

Strikes by Blake Govers and Timothy Brand helped defending champions Australia edge past Ireland 21 in their opening game of the Hockey World Cup 2018 at the Kalinga stadium here on Friday

Bhubaneswar : Strikes by Blake Govers and Timothy Brand helped defending champions Australia edge past Ireland 2-1 in their opening game of the Hockey World Cup 2018 at the Kalinga stadium here on Friday.

Right from the start Australia dominated the proceedings through regular attacks. In the 11th minute, Govers put Australia ahead when he fired a drag flick past the goalie. But the joy was short-lived as Shane O' Donogue equalised in the 13th minute.

Both teams went to half-time with the scoreboard reading 1-1. Just after half-time, Brand slammed a brilliant goal in the 34th minute to put the World Champions ahead of Ireland. Towards the end, Ireland tried to bounce back but failed and Australia clinched the issue.

‘India a potential for podium finish’Former Indian hockey player Lazarus Barla on Friday said India have the potential to win a medal in the men's Hockey World Cup being played at the Kalinga Stadium here.

He said that the team has the potential to reach the semi-final in the tournament and is very close to winning medals.

"This is a balanced team with the presence of young and senior players. They should top in the pool matches so that they can play with a comparatively weak team in the quarter-final and enter the semi-final," said Lazarus, who has played for India in two world cups.

Lazarus, who coached the side at the Kalinga Stadium before the world cup, said the team has performed well at the ground in the Champions League and the World League.

"However, it differs from match to match. Unlike South Africa, defeating Belgium would be tough. They have to concentrate on creating chances and converting these into goals. They will have to work on penalty corners as well," he observed.

India defeated South Africa 5-0 in their first match while they will face World No. 3 Belgium on December 2.

Dream start: Sardar
Former skipper Sardar Singh is impressed with India's "dream" start to their campaign at the hockey World Cup and Friday hoped the hosts will continue the superb run to reclaim the coveted title after 43 years.

India registered a comprehensive 5-0 win against South Africa to make a sizzling start to the World Cup -- a tournament the hosts won only once -- in the 1975 edition at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. "It has been a dream start for India at the hockey world cup. We played simple hockey and it is always important to win the first match," Sardar said on the sidelines of HCL Foundation Annual National Sports Meet - 'Sports for Change'.

"However, the tournament has just begun and a lot of matches are yet to be played. I hope India continues the momentum," added the 32-year-old, who had retired from international hockey last September. Over 500 students across 120 schools and 72 Gurukuls were part of the 'Sports for Change' initiative and more than 350 under privileged children were shortlisted for the national qualifier round across different sports.

Sardar, who was the chief guest in the event, interacted with the participants and encouraged them for active participation in sports. "It gives me immense pleasure to see these children excel in sports with passion and enthusiasm. I congratulate HCL for recognizing its importance. Inculcating the spirit of sportsmanship in these young children will lead to better and brighter future for these budding sporting talents," he said.

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