Junior World Cup hockey: India defeat South Africa 2-1
Men in Blue continue unbeaten run with 2-1 win over Proteas in their final Pool D match; set up quarter-final clash with Spain on Thursday
India and South Africa players tussle for the ball during the Junior World Cup Hockey Pool ‘D’ match in Lucknow yesterday. pic/PTI
Lucknow: India defeated South Africa 2-1 to top Pool D and set up a quarter-final clash against Spain on Thursday in the 11th FIH Junior World Cup hockey championship at the Dhyan Chand Stadium here yesterday.
India go into the knockouts with an all-win record which should give them ample confidence to take on Spain in their quest to end a 15-year title drought in the championship.
It was in Hobart in 2001, that India won their only junior championship.
This is their best chance, having finished a lowly 10th in 2013, to set the record straight. They are bound to improve their ranking this time, as chief coach Roeltan Oltmans has stated that India are aiming to post their best this time.
India’s first aim was to avoid eight-times champions Germany, who have been the most impressive side so far, in the quarter-finals. Having done that, they can now breathe a bit easy.
Germany go into the quarter-finals against England with an all-win record having topped Pool C, while Australia will be up against The Netherlands and Argentina against Belgium in the other three quarters.
Against South Africa, India were on the attack from the word go, but just like their earlier two matches where they took time to warm up and find the net, in yesterday’s game too they had to wait for 11 minutes to find the net through their skipper Harjeet Singh.
South Africa drew parity with a penalty corner conversion by Kyle Lion-Cachet in the 28th minute.
Later, Mandeep Singh, scored via a rasping drive in the 55th minute and that proved to be the clinching goal for India. The Men in Blue now have a two-day rest to recover for the knockouts.
Indian strategic coach Roger van Gent is set to quit after the ongoing Junior World Cup due to family commitments. “Yes, I am quitting after this tournament. It is my last assignment with Indian hockey,” Van Gent said. “It was a tough decision for me but my family needs me because we are going through some difficult times,” he said.
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