Junior Hockey World Cup: What different does India need to do to beat France? A complete analysis

Indian team after their win against Belgium (Image - Hockey India)
Indian team after their win against Belgium (Image - Hockey India)
Sambit Mishra

It was heartbreaking for the Indian colts yesterday at the Kalinga Stadium as they lost to six-time champions Germany by 4-2 goals in the semi-finals of the FIH Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup.

It was not the day for India but there was great hockey played on the turf.We bring you some moments to cherish.#JWC2021 #RisingStars #IndiaKaGame #OdishaForHockey

The Indians, looking for a successive title finish at the most prestigious junior hockey tournament, seemed to lack match exposure as they fumbled after the Germans took the lead and could never make a comeback.

From the starting minute till the end of the match, the Germans dominated the game completely and outclassed the mighty Indians in every department.

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While in the other semi-final, Argentina ended France’s dream run as the former became the first team to enter the final. It was an absolute nail-biter at the hub of hockey – Odisha, as both teams fought like it should be fought in a knock-out.

The full-time score was 0-0, with Argentina winning the shoot-out thanks to heroics from their star goalkeeper, Nehuen Hernando.

India to face France in third-place match

It will be a repeat of India’s first match at the Junior World Cup, as they are set to face France once again tomorrow in their third-place match. India eventually lost to the lower-ranked side by 5-4 in their opening game on November 24th but bounced back strongly to book a place in the quarters.

Undoubtedly, France has been the surprise package in this entire tournament, staying unbeaten throughout only to be beaten by Argentina in the semis, and that too after they held them to a goalless draw.

Hey @Gael_Monfils, We heard you have been giving some tennis tips to the @FF_Hockey Under 21 team too?How well did Mathis Clément volley here? 😉Do follow them as they play semis of the FIH Odisha Men's Hockey Junior World Cup 2021 today. #RisingStars

While India’s hopes of a title defense have already perished, the young French team will have nothing to lose as they have already achieved a lot more than what was expected of them. India has faced tough opponents in two matches and has lost both of them.

While they came back strong and showed intent to fight back in their opening game against France, their lack of international experience and exposure hurt them against the Germans as they trailed by three goals for maximum time in the match.

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What difference does India need to make in its game plan?

If India want to make a podium finish in Bhubaneswar, Graham Reid’s boys will have to up their game by leaps and bounds. India’s dismal performance against Germany has raised questions on the forward’s ability to create scoring opportunities inside the shooting circle.

Forwards need to create penalty corners and make more penetrations inside the circle

The drag-flicking trio of Sanjay, Sharda and Araijeet have been excellent on penalty corners, having above par conversion rates in this entire tournament. While the forwards had enough circular penetration, they failed to convert them into fouls to give India the advantage.

India earned only one PC for the entire match. Reid and Kariappa will have an uphill task in instilling confidence in the junior boys, who must have been disheartened after they were thrashed by Germany.

Both the goalkeepers need to bring in their ‘A’ game

The goalkeepers had stood up when it mattered the most, i.e., in the quarter-finals, but had a very poor outing against the Germans, barely making any saves, except some good ones by Pawan in the last quarter. If India wants to make a podium finish, Prashant and Pawan will have to come up with some heroics.

👉 Relive the best goals saved from #JWC2021 😎 Save Number 1⃣#17 Pawan 🇮🇳 🆚 BelgiumSave Number 2⃣#29 Mahmoud Seleem 🇪🇬 🆚 KoreaSave Number 3⃣#29 Mahmoud Seleem 🇪🇬 🆚 GermanySave Number 4⃣#29 Mahmoud Seleem 🇪🇬 🆚 Pakistan#IndiaKaGame #RisingStars1/2

Patchy midfield needs to step-up

While the centreline is being led by Olympic bronze-medalist Vivek Sagar Prasad and Rabichandra Singh Moirangthem, they hardly made any impact in yesterday’s game against Germany. They could neither supply good balls to the forward line, nor could control the Germans from breaking into their own half.

A tough test awaits the duo, and captain Vivek will have to show why he is an Arjuna Awardee at the age of 21.

India’s major threat & France’s backbone: Timothee Clement

If there is anyone who can be a big star in Int’l hockey in the next few years, then it’s their captain Timothee Clement. With 11 goals to his name in just five matches, which includes 10 goals in the PCs, Clement has been everything a team needs its captain to be.

With the kind of power that Clement generates during his flicks, the Indian goalkeepers will have to be more alert in the penalty corners to stop him from scoring. He scored a hat-trick against India and will be looking to upset the hosts again.

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Both teams will be looking to end their campaign on a high, but it will go down to the wire to see who has the final laugh. India play France on December 5th at 04:30 PM.

Edited by Rohit Mishra
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