NEW DELHI – Former Olympic champions India began their campaign in the Olympic men’s qualifying tournament with a 15-1 rout of Singapore here on Saturday.
India, who failed to make it to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, proved too strong for an inexperienced Singapore side in a match between the highest and lowest-ranked sides.
There was also a convincing romp for Canada, who routed Italy 9-0.
Singapore, ranked 41st, and Italy replaced the United States and Egypt who withdrew from the tournament.
In another encounter, France scored a narrow 2-1 win over Poland.
In the women’s section, South Africa beat Poland 2-1, Italy drew 2-2 with Canada and India and Ukraine shared the points after a 1-1 draw.
One team from each section will qualify for the London Olympics.
India, previously the super power in the sport with a record eight Olympic men’s titles, had the match wrapped up when they led 6-0 at half-time.
Gurwinder Singh Chandi led 10th-ranked India’s goal-spree with three goals, while Danish Mujtaba, Shivendra Singh and S. V. Sunil each scored two goals.
Sardar Singh, Birendra Lakra, Sandeep Singh, Yuvraj Walmiki, Tushar Khandekar and S. K. Uthappa scored one goal apiece.
“Of course we played well, otherwise we would not have scored so many goals. But at the same time, we made a few mistakes,” said India coach Michael Nobbs.
“It was not our finest performance. We were not even close to peaking but I don’t want the team to peak at this time.”
Canada, ranked 14th and strong contenders for an Olympic berth, toyed with 28th-ranked Italy.
Matthew Guest and Rob Short each struck twice for Canada, while Philip Wright, Scott Tupper, David Jameson, Iain Smythe and Hudson Stewart scored one goal apiece.
France gained an early lead against Poland when Hugo Genestet scored a field goal in the ninth minute while Lucas Sevestre made it 2-0 by converting a penalty-corner in the 39th.
Szymon Oszyjczyk scored the lone goal for Poland in the 41st minute.
“It was a tough match, but the important thing is that we started the tournament with a victory. It will give us a chance to move forward,” said French captain Arnaud Becuwe, who was named the player of the match.
“I think our finishing should have been better.”
The Indian women, ranked 13th, were in for a surprise when they were held to a draw by 26th-ranked Ukraine.
Maryna Vynohradova scored off a penalty-corner in the 26th minute before Soundarya Yendala equalised for India in the second half.
South African Pietie Coetzee, the highest goal-scorer in international field hockey who came out of retirement in 2010, scored the winner in the 53rd minute after Poland had made it a 1-1 through Magdalena Zagajska.
South Africa, strong favourites for the Olympic berth, opened their account in the 39th minute when Kate Woods converted a penalty-corner.
In another encounter, Italian Alessia Doriana Padalino scored the equaliser in the 63rd minute to help her team share points with Canada.
The Italians scored in the third minute when Agata Wybieralska converted a penalty-corner before Canada struck twice in the second half through Thea Culley and Brienne Stairs to gain the lead.