Saturday, September 23, 2023

Manpreet Singh: Not the skipper but rather still a pioneer

The 30-year-old has been a livewire on the pitch in the World Cup, shouting instructions to his colleagues and acing the playmaker role.

India’s star midfielder Hardik Singh was ruled out of the entire World Cup after picking up a hamstring injury. Hardik sustained the injury during India’s goalless draw with England at the World Cup 2023 on January 15. Ranked sixth in the world, the hosts opened the scoring against New Zealand through Lalit Upadhyay in the 17th minute of the game. India’s Sukhjeet Singh extended India’s lead to two goals before New Zealand responded through Sam Lane, who netted the opener for the Kiwis in the 28th minute of the game.

Completing New Zealand’s stunning comeback in the six-goal thriller at Bhubaneswar, Kane Russell (43rd) and Sean Findlay (49th) shell-shocked India with two late goals. The enchanting contest was eventually decided via a penalty shootout after New Zealand restored parity prior to the end of the regulation time. Goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak put up a show for the hosts in the marathon shootout as the duo produced stunning saves to keep India’s hopes alive in the crossover stage.

Veteran goalkeeper Sreejesh even suffered an injury while preventing Woods from scoring in the shootout. After Sam Lane got the better of Pathak after a rebound, the onus was on Shamsher Singh to keep India’s hopes alive in the contest. While Shamsher missed his first attempt, his second effort was remarkably saved by Hayward as the Team India star failed to convert the decisive penalty in sudden death. Registering a memorable win over the hosts, New Zealand have entered the quarter-final stage of the World Cup 2023. The Kiwis will meet Belgium at the business end of the showpiece event.

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