German machine dashes Indian hopes, again - Hindustan Times
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German machine dashes Indian hopes, again

By, New Delhi
Dec 14, 2023 09:03 PM IST

Profligate India squander 12 penalty corners as six-time champions win 4-1 to enter their ninth junior men’s hockey World Cup final

India were hopeful of spreading the senior hockey team’s success at the Tokyo Olympics to the junior level as well. Playing at home, the conditions and momentum favoured India. But Germany dashed Indian hopes by winning the Junior World Cup semi-final 4-2 in Bhubaneswar.

India lost to Germany in the Junior World Cup semi-final.(Hockey India)
India lost to Germany in the Junior World Cup semi-final.(Hockey India)

Two years later, while the location changed to Kuala Lumpur, the opponents, stage and platform remained the same. And so did the result. Germany once again blew away India’s dream by winning 4-1 and enter yet another Junior World Cup final at the Bukit Jalil National Hockey Stadium on Thursday.

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Germany proved yet again that they are the most dominant force in junior hockey by reaching their ninth final out of which they have won six. In 13 editions, only once (2005) have they not stood on the podium as the Matteo Poljaric-led outfit will be aiming to clinch their country’s seventh title on Saturday – and emulate the senior team that won the World Cup in January in Bhubaneswar.

While India tried hard and attacked well, they fell significantly behind when it came to their finishing. The biggest difference between the two sides proved to be penalty corners (PC). While Germany were all about precision, converting both their short corners, India were wasteful converting none of 12 PC chances they created.

While some PCs were not trapped properly, the precision of shots disappointed coach CR Kumar, who was confident on the eve of the contest that the variations taught to his wards would pay off.

Player of the match Ben Hasbach (8th, 30th), Paul Glander (41st) and Florian Sperling (58th) scored for the winners and Sudeep Chirmako (11th), who had also scored against Germany two years back, scored India’s lone goal. This was also India’s fifth successive loss to Germany in junior hockey.

India had 17 circle penetrations. They also had 11 shots on goal. But only Chirmako managed to score, in the first quarter when he helped India draw level with brilliant individual play, finishing it off with a darting reverse shot into the top corner.

Two-time champions India took off immediately to earn a PC in the first minute. Amandeep Lakra hit the ball hard but the German first rusher was fast enough to deflect the ball. India got another chance three minutes later but Araijeet Singh Hundal’s low effort was stopped by goalkeeper Joshua Onyekwue.

As India wasted their chances, Germany capitalised on theirs when a field error put the ball in the way of Liam Holdermann who guided the ball from the middle of the pitch into the Indian striking circle. While Hodermann fell in a collision with Indian keeper HS Mohith, a one-two between Aron Flatten and Hasbach was enough to put Germany in front. After wasting another couple of PCs, Chirmako levelled the contest.

The second period was all about a wasteful India and a perfect Germany, who waited for their chances. The Indian forward line tried whatever they could – variations, grounded shots, hits, scoops – but six PCs were brilliantly halted by Onyekwue and the German rushers. But when the moment came, Hasbach scored his brace to hand Germany the advantage again going into half-time.

It started to rain by the time the second half commenced, slowing down the pace of the contest. With the goal difference not big enough, both teams became cagey. Both earned a PC each in the third quarter. While India again failed to convert, Germany made it two goals from as many PCs with Glander hitting the mark.

As the rain started to subside in the final quarter, so did India’s chances. Uttam Singh’s boys tried everything they could but the German defence stood tall. India even tried the variation that had handed them the winning goal in the quarter-final against Netherlands but Germany were prepared for it, easily anticipating and halting the ball.

Germany played steady and were quick to react and counterattack. As the match neared the end, the writing was on the wall. Indian shoulders began to droop, their pace slowed down. Germany caught India off guard to score their fourth when Sperling scooped in his first to further rub salt on India’s wounds.

Kumar kept waiting for the moment of magic but that never came as India players fell to the floor at the sound of the final hooter.

India will now hope to redeem themselves on Saturday when they play the bronze medal playoff.

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