Bhubaneswar, March 12: India summed up their experience and conditions at home, as a young and inexperienced Germany edged them out 1-1 before the visitors won the penalty shootout 2-1 to earn a bonus point in the first game of the FIH Pro League women’s doubles. header here on Saturday.
It was a game of two halves as Germany kept possession in the first half and India in the second. The hosts took an early lead through Navneet Kaur in the fourth minute, but Germany equalized within a minute through Carlotta Sippel and the two teams remained tied 1–1 until the end of the match despite creating several chances. The two goalkeepers kept their respective teams in the hunt by making some good saves. In the end, Germany had the last laugh by winning the penalty shootout 2-1.
The Indians could not play their best game against the inexperienced Germans at the Kalinga Stadium.
The German team had a total of 65 caps to its name, with one of the youngest players, 18-year-old Jette Fleschutz, the player with the most caps at 18 appearances.
In contrast, Sushila Chanu was celebrating 200 caps for India, who should have made better use of their opportunities and put up a more conclusive performance. Certainly, that’s what head coach Janneke Schopman will expect from her players in Sunday’s second game.
India responded well after the Germans put pressure on them early on and Navneet scored a goal, which followed a great run by Sharmila Devi down the left side of the pitch. His cross found Navneet, who was able to guide him home to make it 1-0.
Germany came from behind strong and scored two penalty corners in a row. His efforts were finally rewarded when Sippel was able to fire the ball home on a rebound after India’s captain Savita made a save.
The rest of the first half continued in the same fashion, with Germany having a greater share of possession and earning three penalty corners, to none for India. However, neither side could find a way past the two goalkeepers; Savita for India and Mali Wichmann, who was making her debut for Germany.
The third quarter saw India pushing their forwards to a greater extent. Two penalty corners, both executed by Gurjit Kaur, brought two good saves from Wichmann. As time went on, there was a feeling that some of the sharpness had disappeared from the German game, allowing India more time to run towards goal. However, it was Die Danas who came closest to breaking the tie when a shot appeared to have crossed India’s goal line; finally, he was cleared to safety.
The fourth quarter saw both teams digging deep to find the game-winning goal. The momentum seemed to be with India as they responded to encouragement from the stands. However, Germany put in a lot of effort and managed the game well, keeping a tight backline in the face of mounting Indian pressure.
The teams remained 1-1 at the end of 60 minutes of regulation play.
In the penalty shootout, Germany held their ground to take the bonus point. While neither team showed great finishing in the penalty shootout, credit must go to German goalkeeper Wichmann as she saved four attempts and made a great video reference to cancel a penalty shot on a technicality.