New Delhi, Feb 19 : The question before the start of the 8 pm match at the Major Dhyanchand National stadium here on Saturday was 'how many'.
The teams in the fray were India, a battle-hardened outfit with many experienced players, and Singapore, a bunch of rookies who were assembled at the last minute to play in the Olympic men's hockey qualifying tournament.
Schedule and Results | Points Table
There was never any doubt about the result; it was just the margin which kept everyone guessing with some even talking about a world record.
The record did not happen but in the end, when India decided to put an end to the massacre, the scoreline read 15-1 in their favour. The margin could have been much bigger but for the lost opportunities.
One felt pity for the hapless young players from Singapore who were mauled by the Indians before a motley home crowd. Singapore (most of its members must be students back home) came here unprepared after US pulled out at the last moment and they were named as replacement by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in an apparent face-saving exercise.
They tried to play out of their skin and even managed to score a goal, but that effort was not enough against a team desperately seeking to secure a place in the London Olympics. That India scored their first goal in the 10th minute was not because they were denied by the Singaporeans.
Rather, they were off-target on at least eight attempts they made on the rival citadel in that period. Some of them went over the post, some went out and others hit the bar. But once they found the back of the net, floodgates opened.
They slammed home 14 more goals, at the same time fluffing over two dozen opportunities. Six goals came in the first half and nine in the second. The free-for-all merry-making saw as many as 10 players getting their names on the score sheet.
The Indian scorers were Gurvinder Singh Chandi (10th, 21st, 40th minutes), Shivendra Singh (18th, 30th), Danish Mujtaba (25th, 52nd), SV Sunil (54th, 57th), Sardar Singh (11th), Tushar Khandker 42nd), Sandeep Singh (47th), SK Uthappa (48th), Yuvraj Walmiki (53rd) and Birendra Lakra (70th).
Singapore's lone goal came when Enrico Marican stunned them on resumption in the second half, in the 39th minute of the match.
In earlier matches, Canada showed their might blanking Italy 9-0 while France overcame a fighting Poland 2-1 to log full points. Italy showed some pluck in the earlier phase of the match by holding their rivals for 10-odd minutes.
But a penalty corner conversion off a rebound by David Jameson started the goal-fest in the first men's match of the qualifiers. They slammed home two more goals in the first half before sounding the board on six occasions after the break. In fact, the team ranked No. 14 in the world scored five goals in a span of 11 minutes towards the end of the match.
France clearly looked the superior team in the other match scoring a goal each in either side of the half. Poland managed to force one in the 41st minute, but could do no more to gain a point. "We missed some scoring opportunities, else the margin would have been bigger," said French captain Arnaud Becuwe.