Junior Hockey World Cup: Defending champions India lose to Germany in the semifinal
The Indians, who last won the Junior World Cup title in Lucknow in 2016, looked a pale shadow of themselves against Germany.
Defending champions India's dream of a second consecutive FIH Junior Men's Hockey World Cup title was shattered on Friday as six-time winners Germany defeated the hosts 2-4.
Germany will meet Argentina in the summit clash of the premier tournament. The Indians, who last won the Junior World Cup title in Lucknow in 2016, looked a pale shadow of themselves against Germany. The Germans scored through Erik Kleinlein (15th minute), Aron Flatten (21st), skipper Hannes Muller (24th) and Christopher Kutter (25th). For India, Uttam Singh (25th) and Boby Singh Dhami (60th) were the goal getters.
India will play France in the third-fourth place classification match on Sunday, before the final. India had earlier lost 4-5 against France in the pool stages. The Indians' game on Friday was in stark contrast to the way they played against Belgium in the quarterfinals. While their defence was extraordinary in the last match, the backline was caught napping by the Germans. There was no cohesion between the midfield and forward line with Uttam showing his brilliance in patches.
The Germans were the better side on display in the first quarter and pressed the Indian defence from the word go. Maximillian Siegburg missed a golden opportunity to take the lead for Germany as he failed to connect a loose ball in the far post with an open goal in front. In the next minute, Germany secured their first penalty corner but India goalkeeper Prasanth Chauhan made a fine save.
Instead of going full throttle, India preferred to play half-press and utilized the flanks to build their attacks, but they faltered in stopping and trapping the ball in wet pitch conditions. Germany, instead, played better under the constant drizzle compared to the hosts and took the lead just 25 seconds from the end of first quarter. Kleinlein scored from a rebound from Germany's second penalty corner after the initial flick was saved by Prasanth.
Five seconds from the first break India secured a penalty corner but vice-captain Sanjay Kumar failed to find the back of the net. Germany continued to press hard for the second goal and dominated the proceedings in the second quarter too. Six minutes into the second quarter Germany once again caught the Indian defence napping and doubled their lead through Flatten.
Minutes later the Germans surged 3-0 ahead when skipper Muller found the back of the Indian net to the right of Pawan with a reverse hit from the top of the circle. India responded immediately and pulled a goal back through Uttam who tapped in Rahul Kumar Rajbhar's cross from the left flank. But India's joy was short-lived as they conceded another penalty corner seconds later, which resulted in a penalty stroke, and Kutter made no mistake from the spot as Germany led 4-1 at halftime.
Trailing by three goals, India tried to press hard after the change of ends but the German defence stood tall. While India created a few good moves in the third quarter, the finishing was not up to the mark. In the 42nd minute, Rajbhar found himself in a scoring position but Germany keeper Anton Brinckman came out of his line to close down the angle.
With four quality penalty corner specialists in the side, India's weapon was set-pieces but the German defence conceded just one to take that factor out of the contest. Instead of trying to earn penalty corners, the Indian players were guilty of holding on to the ball and dribbling too much inside the opponent's circle.
Germany secured a set piece in the 52nd minute but failed to convert. In what came as a consolation, Dhami scored just seconds from the final hooter to reduce the margin but, by then, Germany had dashed India's hopes