2nd Sultan of Johor Cup: India whip New Zealand 3-1 to march into final
Save for the goalless draw against Pakistan on Wednesday, the Indian junior men’s hockey team has dished out a pretty decent performance in the Sultan of Johor Cup, turning in two clinical victories over formidable opponents Australia and Germany.
Of course, the manner in which the Indian forwards frittered away scoring opportunities against Pakistan might not please coach Baljit Singh Saini. However, the good work put in by the team in the first two games have placed them in such a place from where they can seriously harbour hopes of winning the 2nd Sultan of Johor Cup.
The day four of the tournament saw Germany do India a massive favour by putting it across Australia 2-0 – remember the Aussies were breathing down India’s neck in the points table – and seriously dented the Oz’s aspirations of giving India a hot chase for the title.
Knowing the outcome of the Germany-Australia match must have surely added an extra spring in the strides of the Indians as they took on New Zealand in their fourth league match at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium in Johor Bahru.
The Indians enjoyed more of the possession in the initial stages, forcing their first penalty corner in the 7th minute but they failed to convert into a goal.
The early sallies paid off as Mandeep Singh, continuing his good run in the tournament, scored the opening goal in the 17th minute. Harjit Singh doubled the lead in the 27th minute to assert his team’s supremacy in the match.
Mandeep struck again for India close to half time, to give his side a commanding 3-0 lead.
The 34th minute strike was Mandeep’s fourth goal in the tournament.
New Zealand reduced the margin in the second half through Benedict van Woerkom in the 48th minute but the Indians had done enough in the first half to win the match 3-1 to march into the final to be played on Sunday.
In the inaugural edition last year, India finished fourth, losing narrowly 3-4 to South Korea in the play-off tie for the third spot.