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India end 15-year drought in junior hockey

India created history on December 18 by winning the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup after a gap of 15 long years with a clinical 2-1 victory against Belgium in the final.

India end 15-year drought in junior hockey
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Indian Junior Hockey Team celebrate their victory

Lucknow

The hosts scored two beautifully crafted field goals in the first half through Gurjant Singh (8th minute) and Simranjeet Singh (22nd) while controlling the proceedings for better part of the game to emerge deserving winners. The team coached by Harendra Singh in association with senior team’s chief coach Roelant Oltmans accomplished what the ‘Class of 2001’ comprising some of the best of their times like Gagan Ajit Singh, Yugraj Singh achieved then. 

Having finished a lowly 13th in the last edition of the tournament in New Delhi, India as they reclaimed the title for the second time in the history of the tournament. India had last won the tournament way back in 2001 in Hobart. It was also the first time that a host nation had won the tournament since its inception, The Indians produced a clinical performance – a “perfect game” which the team’s coaching staff was eying for in order to revive the fortunes of the game in a nation, which has boasted of a rich hockey tradition. Belgium scored a late consolation goal through Fabrice van Bockrijck’s penalty corner conversion in the 70th minute. 

With the title in sight, the Indians went on the offensive from the word go. India’s relentless pressure on the opposition striking circle earned them two penalty corners in the opening six minutes but the hosts wasted both the opportunities. 

India drew the first blood in the eighth minute through Gurjant’s fantastic field strike. In the 22nd minute, Simranjeet’s reverse shot from top of the circle after he was fed by a measured pass from Nilkanta helped India double their lead. 

Stunned by India’s aggression with a partisan crowd to contend with, Belgium went for goals and in the process secured their first penalty corner in the 30th minute but the opportunity went wasted as the hosts went into breather with a comfortable 2-0 lead. Holders Germany took the bronze medal beating Australia 3-0.

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