It was total annihilation as a superior Indian men’s hockey team hammered Russia 7-1 (11-3 on aggregate) in the ongoing two-legged FIH Hockey Olmypics Qualifiers on Saturday to book themselves a berth for next year’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
It was Rupinder Singh and Akashdeep Singh’s brace that starred as eight-time champions India made the all-important cut. Akashdeep Singh (23rd, 29th minutes) and Rupinder Pal Singh (48th, 59th) scored a brace each, while Lalit Upadhyay (17th), Nilkanta Sharma (47th) and Amit Rohidas (60th) added their names on the goal-scorer’s sheet after Russia took an early lead in the opening minute through Alexey Sobolevskiy.
The Indian men, ranked fifth in the world, had earlier defeated world number 22 Russia 4-2 in the first-leg on Friday.
Earlier in the day, the Indian women’s hockey team sealed its place in next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after beating USA 6-5 on aggregate despite losing the second match 1-4 in the double-leg FIH Qualifiers at Bhubaneswar on Saturday.
After thrashing USA 5-1 on Friday, the Indian girls looked a pale shadow of themselves on Saturday as USA raced to a 4-0 lead in the first half, courtesy goals from Amanda Magadan (5th, 28th minutes), skipper Kathleen Sharkey (14th) and Alyssa Parker (20th). India’s vital goal was scored by captain Rani Rampal in the 48th minute.
Indian women have participated in the 1980 Moscow Olympics and qualified again in Rio after 36 years.