Junior Hockey World Cup: India set up quarter-final clash with Spain
India confirmed their place in the Junior Hockey World Cup quarter finals as they won 2-1 in a tight and hard-fought contest against a well disciplined South African team. The match, India’s final one in Pool D, was their third win in a row after beating Canada and England in their previous ones.
While Kyle Lion-Cachet got the only the goal for South Africa, Harjeet Singh was the first scorer of the game in the 11th minute. The hosts started the attack front the left wing through a superb run by Manpreet followed by a pass that fell to Harjeet, who shot the ball hard past the defender into the top right corner from seemingly a pretty hard angle.
Despite earning quite a lot of success from penalty corners in this tournament, their first penalty corner attempt by Harmanpreet Singh in the 17th minute forced a save from the South African goalkeeper Siyavuya Nolutshungu, who prevented the ball from going directly to the top right corner of the goal.
However, despite being dominated by the Indian team for most of the first half, South Africa gave a sudden reply by scoring the equaliser in the 27th minute. A cheeky flick by Lion-Cachet that sneaked past the Indian goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya.
India came close to scoring their second of the game in the closing stages of the first half through a shot by Gurjant Singh that went just wide of the goal, only for India to continue preventing going behind against their opponents.
Finally, India scored the goal that was coming in the 55th minute through an impressive effort by Mandeep, who took his chance that came from a diagonal pass from outside the penalty area, eventually beating the South African man in between the sticks.
With that victory, the Indians gained a total of nine out nine in their pool and go through to the quarter finals, making them the favourites to win the Junior Hockey World Cup. Joining India from Pool D would be England who absolutely battered Canada in their last group match of the series.
Other favourites of the competition, Australia and Belgium also secured their place in the last eight with convincing wins against their respective opponents, despite the former still having a game in hand to play.
Teams from other pools who went through to the knockout stages are Argentina, who beat Korea 5-1 in their Pool A match, and Netherlands, who came second behind Belgium in Pool B with six points from three matches.
Therefore, the teams with a 100% record till now are India, Belgium and possibly Australia who face Korea in their last pool match. India will face Spain in one of the matches in the quarter finals scheduled on the 15th of December and other fixtures are Australia vs Netherlands and Belgium vs Argentina.