NEW DELHI, Feb 26: An all-out attack from the Indian men`s hockey team against France in the final match of the Olympic qualifiers on Sunday, paid rich dividends for the hosts as the team booked an Olympic berth for the first time in 8 years by defeating France 8-1.
From the starting seconds of play, the strategy of the Indians was simple enough for all to read: attack the opposition into submission. The French defense looked like absorbing the pressure when a penalty corner was blocked out. It however, was only a matter of time. A Manpreet cross found Birendra Lakra who tapped it past the French custodian to put his team in the lead.
India doubled their money within minutes of the first goal. The second penalty corner for the team and Saneep Singh did what he does best. A whack to the top-right of the goal and decibels at the National Stadium touched record levels.
France managed to pull back once 2 Indian players were shown the green card but their solitary goal was soon reversed by another successful penalty corner conversion, by Sandeep again.
The half-time scoreline read 3-1 to India and minutes into the second half, India made it 5-1 in a rush. Sandeep then rushed to make it 7-1 to the utter dismay of the visitors. The ace forward was then taken out but it hardly made a difference as the hosts struck from another penalty corner.