Junior high for India after clinching Hockey World Cup title

Updated: Dec 19, 2016, 12:29 IST | Santosh Suri

India create history by winning the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup after 15 years beating Belgium 2-1

The jubilant Indian hockey team with the Junior World Cup trophy which they won after defeating Belgium 2-1 in Lucknow yesterday. Pics/PTI
The jubilant Indian hockey team with the Junior World Cup trophy which they won after defeating Belgium 2-1 in Lucknow yesterday. Pics/PTI

Lucknow: In front of a full house India played like champions as they overcame Belgium 2-1 to win the Junior World Cup hockey championship after 15 years. Rarely if ever have we seen India dominate a final like they did yesterday at the Dhyan Chand stadium. The goal they conceded via the penalty corner came when the clock had stopped at full time and did not make any difference to the outcome.

"It was almost a perfect game for us, at least in the first half," said Roelant Oltmans, on the team's performance in the final. Though he did concede his wards could have done better in the second half, when they sat on a two-goal lead. Coach Harendra Singh said that for him all 18 players are the heroes and have done the country proud.

India captain Harjeet Singh with the trophy
India captain Harjeet Singh with the trophy

"The players are the heroes today. I do not want to take the limelight away from them by saying anything," the coach said in choking voice. Captain Harjeet Singh was more forthcoming saying the hard work and discipline of last two-and-a-half years had paid dividends. "For the last two years the team had just one aim, which we have fulfilled today. We have sacrificed a lot and I am happy that we have received just reward." the captain said.

Dominated from the start
Right from the beginning India harried the Belgian attack to stamp their domination. They earned two penalty corners within the first 10 minutes, but both went to waste as they were not stopped cleanly. However, the Men in Blue pressed on and went ahead when Gurjant Singh collected a well-measured scoop in the circle and with a rasping backhand hit put the ball into the net to put India ahead in the eighth minute.

Simranjeet got the second goal in a grand manner in the 22nd minute on the move initiated by him. India could have consolidated further but missed out on a couple of gilt-edged chances. All the while, Belgians who are usually quite methodical and play like a well-oiled machine, just could not breach the Indian defences.

India show intent
In second half, India were more intent on holding on to the ball for as long as possible, eschewing the risk of giving away the ball needlessly. Belgians too played a waiting game, trying to draw out the Indians from their half.

India did conced a penalty corner in the final few seconds, and even as the Belgians were preparing to take it, the clock stopped at 00.00, ensuring India would win the match even if the rivals scored, which they did. But by then the crowds were already dancing and India had achieved the feat of winning the title after 2001 in Hobart.

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