Crowds pour in to wit­ness In­dia march to ti­tle in show­piece fi­nale

The Hockey Paper - - MEN'S JUNIOR WORLD CUP - by San­deep Singh

SPURRED by the beats of drums from the gal­leries, hosts In­dia re­claimed the Ju­nior World Cup af­ter a gap of 15 years by pre­vail­ing 2-1 over Bel­gium in the ti­tle en­counter.

It was stand­ing room only as 17,000 fans packed into the Ma­jor Dhyan Chand Hockey Sta­dium in Luc­know to see their lo­cal heroes strike gold for the sec­ond time in this global tour­na­ment, at last repli­cat­ing their tri­umph from 2001 in Ho­bart.

Open-play goals from Gur­jant Singh and Sim­ran­jeet Singh put In­dia in com­mand in their third Ju­nior World Cup fi­nal ap­pear­ance.

They muffed two more scor­ing chances even as they en­dured a Bel­gian fight­back and fell back to guard their ter­ri­tory in the sec­ond half.

Aware that Bel­gium’s well-struc­tured de­fence would prove dif­fi­cult, In­dia hoped to cap­i­talise on counter-at­tacks and sta­tioned two strikers on top of the cir­cle.

The tac­tics bore fruit in the eighth minute when a long aerial ball into the cir­cle from Varun Ku­mar was padded by the cus­to­dian straight to Gur­jant.

He pounced on the chance and scored with a rasp­ing re­verse drive from an acute an­gle that landed in the goal’s far right cor­ner. Sim­ran­jeet in­creased the In­dian lead in the 22nd minute with a quick re­verse from top of the cir­cle.

In a late fight­back, Bel­gium man­aged to breach the In­dian de­fence on an over­time penalty cor­ner through Fabrice van Bock­ri­jck in the dy­ing sec­onds, at a time when cel­e­bra­tions had al­ready be­gun on the In­dian bench.

In their two pre­vi­ous two ap­pear­ances in the fi­nal, In­dia had fin­ished sec­ond be­hind Aus­tralia at Mil­ton Keynes in 1997 and won the ti­tle by over­com­ing Ar­gentina in 2001.

In­dia’s pas­sage to the fi­nal here fea­tured a 4-2 penalty shoot-out vic­tory over a strong Aus­tralian side in the semi-fi­nals, where the reg­u­la­tion pe­riod had ended on a 2-2 dead­lock.

Ear­lier, in the quar­ter­fi­nals, the hosts were given a scare by Spain (2-1), who de­fended stoutly af­ter tak­ing the lead, only to con­cede two late penalty cor­ner goals to let In­dia off the hook.

The In­di­ans had topped their pre­lim­i­nary group with three suc­ces­sive wins against Canada (4-0), Eng­land (5-3) and South Africa (2-1), but the Africans had pushed them close.

The lead­ing lights of the In­dian cam­paign were livewire striker Man­deep Singh and penalty cor­ner flicker Har­man­preet Singh.

Mean­while, cap­tain Har­jeet Singh played the com­posed play-maker as they regis­tered a 100 per cent record to as­sert their claim on the ti­tle.

Eleven In­dian play­ers come from the Surjit Hockey Acad­emy, named af­ter for­mer In­dian cap­tain Surjit Singh, in Pun­jab’s Jalandhar city. Play­ing to­gether since their school days, they formed the crux of the In­dian squad that was put un­der the charge of coach Haren­dra Singh two years

ago. Of­ten termed a failed player for his in­abil­ity to grad­u­ate to the in­ter­na­tional ranks as a deep de­fender, Haren­dra played his part in build­ing this win­ning com­bi­na­tion.

Three years ago, when In­dia hosted the Ju­nior World Cup in its cap­i­tal, New Delhi, In­dia had failed to ad­vance to the quar­ter­fi­nals and fin­ished a dis­ap­point­ing 10th.

Goal­keeper Loic van Doren was the star-per­former for Bel­gium as he won con­sec­u­tive penalty shoot-outs against Ar­gentina in the quar­ter-fi­nals (af­ter their match had fin­ished 1-1 in reg­u­la­tion time) and two-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Ger­many in the semi­fi­nals (af­ter an un­usual goal­less draw).

Van Doren’s ster­ling show dashed Gar­man hopes of a third suc­ces­sive ti­tle af­ter they had edged out Eng­land 4-2 in the last eight.

Eng­land were pushed back into their own ter­ri­tory by the dom­i­nant Ger­man line-up, but came into the con­test only in the last quar­ter to pull two goals back.

Press­ing hard for an equaliser at 3-2, Eng­land had two shots at the ri­val goal in the clos­ing stages but promptly con­ceded a goal at the other end in the dy­ing stages. Eng­land, thus, failed to make what would have been their first semi-fi­nal in 15 years.

Timm Herzbruch, who was ad­judged the best Un­der-19 player of the tour­na­ment, scored twice to lead Ger­many to a 3-0 vic­tory over Aus­tralia in the bronze medal match.

Herzbruch got into the goal-scor­ing act af­ter Jan Schif­fer’s 11th-minute strike in open play had put the Ger­mans ahead at half-time.

Lucky in Luc­know: Sim­ran­jeet struck In­dia’s sec­ond

Singh when you’re win­ning: Gur­jant cel­e­brates

Fire­works: The vic­to­ri­ous In­dian team cel­e­brate their tri­umph

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.