Muscat: Young striker Dilpreet Singh scored a hat-trick as India launched their title defence with a runaway 11-0 victory over hosts Oman in the Asian Champions Trophy here. After being denied in the first quarter, India opened the scoring through Lalit Upadhyay’s goal in open play in the 17th minute.
Three more goals followed in the second quarter of the match played on Thursday night as Harmanpreet Singh (22nd minute) sounded the board with a low drag-flick, followed by Nilakanta Sharma (23rd minute), who flicked in during a goalmouth scrimmage and Mandeep Singh (30th minute), who capitalised on a pass from the right flank.
Having started with two forays into the Indian circle in the first quarter, Oman wilted under pressure in the second half. Dilpreet scored three goals (41st, 55th and 57th minute) and was adjudged Man of the Match, while Gurjant Singh (37th minute), Akashdeep Singh (27th minute), Varun Kumar (49th minute) and Chinglensana Singh (53rd minute) also made entries on the score-sheet.
Elated at his first Man of the Match performance for the senior national team, Dilpreet credited his teammates for creating opportunities. “It was not just an individual effort. My teammates created the openings for me to score the goals,” he said.
Indian coach Harendra Singh said beginning with a big win was the team’s target. “We are happy to start in this manner, but tougher competition is ahead of us,” said Harendra ahead of the clash against arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday night.
“I am not happy at the manner in which we played the first quarter. We have a lot of work to do.” Oman team’s coach Tahir Zaman said he expected India to go all out, but was upset at the errors by his defenders. “We gave away four or five goals that should not have been there. We were playing against Asia’s highest-ranked team. Our target was to sustain and absorb the pressure that was expected from India,” said Zaman, a former Pakistan captain. “Despite the highly skilled opponents, our team did well to create some scoring opportunities in the first quarter. But the difference in quality became evident as the game proceeded,” he added.