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Subadh Kumar Nayak

Bhubaneswar: United States of America thumped South Africa 2-0 in opening match of the hockey FIH Men's Series Finals which kicked off at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar here today.

Christian de Angelis (47) and Paul Singh (57) scored for the USA while shot stopper for the North American side Jonathan Klages was however adjudged the Player of the Match for his brilliant performance in thwarting several goal opportunities of the South Africans.

Later in the day, two more matches will be played when Poland and Uzbekistan lock horn at 5 PM and host India begin its campaign against Russia at 7 PM.

Apart from the host nation, seven other countries - Russia, Poland, Uzbekistan, South Africa, Japan, USA and Mexico - are taking part in the 10-day tournament.

FIH Series Finals is a crucial step for all the teams for securing direct entry into qualification rounds of 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Ahead of their encounter against Russia, Indian skipper Manpreet Singh exuded confidence on performing well to begin the tournament on a high.

“It is a very important series for our team because it is first step towards securing qualification for the Tokyo Olympic Games. We will focus on gaining confidence and perform well. Our only target in the tournament will be to convert as many scoring opportunities into goals and also strengthen our defence,” Singh said.

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