France Men’s Hockey team outclass India in their third Pro League match

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Dragflick Newsdesk : It was an exciting day of Pro League action as the No. 13 world ranked France toppled the No. 3-ranked Indian side in an exciting 5-2 game in South Africa. While the France defence were outstanding, it was the firing offence that put on a show. India struggled to convert on penalty corners and could only tally from the stroke mark.

It was a very different match up today between the Olympic bronze medallists, India, and a renewed France side. France’s impenetrable defence powered the team to a 5-2 win, after taking Netherlands to a 2-2 tie just days earlier. Victor Charlet lead in scoring with a pocket of set pieces, while Viktor Lockwood, Charles Masson and Timothée Clément also got on the scoresheet. Penalty strokes from Jarmanpreet Singh and Harmanpreet Singh were all India could muster despite 13 penalty corner attempts.

France bench boss Frederic Soyez said before the first game, a 5-0 loss, his team had landed just 48 hours earlier and had just two training sessions. Now we would see the real France.

Following today’s win France captain Gaspard Baumgarten said:

‘After our first game we did a lot of video analysis because a lot went wrong. So, we create a game plan to do better. The most successful part of that game plan was the defence. I think the defence was terrific today.’

After an opening quarter with little offensive action, a long aerial ball sprung Clement on half-field a streak and Amit Rohidas was unable to contain him. The resulting penalty stroke was buried by Charlet to give France the opening goal. India responded within the minute. A brilliant midfield transfer found the stick of Jarmanpreet Singh whose pass intended for Sumit ricocheted off defender Stanislas Branicki’s stick and in to level the game.

It was a fast-paced and energetic third and fourth quarter that included several India penalty corners. The France defensive battery was outstanding with Arthur Thieffry getting a pad on the few chances that did squeeze past the brave and charging Charlet.

France found their go-ahead goal in the 35th minute when Baumgarten’s quick free pass found its way to Lockwood on the left baseline. Lockwood crafted his way through the Indian defence and blasted a tight-angled shot out of the air and through the legs of Sreejesh.

Speaking of his goal, Player of the Match Viktor Lockwood said:

‘It was crazy, I don’t really strike on anything but my reverse, so that was a surprise. We had a difficult first game but now we are in the competition. We brought a lot of energy which made up for lack of prep.’

India seemed to be doing everything they needed to find an equalizer, but their penalty corner unit could not find a way. Charlet ran down three-straight Harmanpreet flicks that lead to France pushing forward for a penalty corner of their own.

Clement’s low flick in the 48th minute was effortlessly redirected in by Masson to send panic to the India bench. On India’s 13th penalty corner attempt, a miss trap at the top of the circle sent France on a charging counterattack.

Baumgarten earned the penalty corner, and it was none other than Charlet whose rocket of a flick soared over the subbed-in Pathak for a 4-2 France lead. It was chaos for India as a sideline turnover led to a playful passing play between Francois Blaise Rogeau, Francois Goyet and eventual scorer Clement to seal the 5-2 victory.

Speaking ahead of the game, India head coach Graham Reid said that France would be posing a very different threat than in their previous encounter. How right he was. France now enjoy their first three points in the Pro League, while India are left to suffer with their first loss.

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