India knocked out of Junior Hockey World Cup

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Sun, 05/12/2021
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Defending champions India have been knocked out of the Junior Hockey World Cup. 

They were beaten 4-2 by six-time champions Germany in the semi-final played at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar.

Germany will now play Argentina in the final, while India will have to content themselves with a third-place playoff against France.

India, who won the tournament the last time it was played in Lucknow in 2016, had recovered from a poor start to this year’s event. They had lost their opening group game to France.

In their quarter-final with Belgium, the Indian defence had played above and beyond themselves, but this time they were not at the same level, and the relentless German pressing forced them into mistakes. 

The Germans had already missed several gilt-edged chances before finally taking the lead just before the end of the first quarter. Erik Kleinlein scored from a rebound from a penalty corner after the Indian goalkeeper saved the initial flick.

There was no let-up in the second quarter either, as the Germans doubled their advantage when the Indian defence fell asleep and Aron Flatten was given time and space to score.

Four minutes later it was 3-0, German skipper Hannes Muller finding the top of the net form a reverse hit.

India belatedly sparked into life and pulled a goal back through Uttam Singh. But Germany restored their three-goal lead seconds later. A penalty corner resulted in the referee awarding a penalty shot, and Christopher Kutter made no mistake from the spot.

From there the Germans were content to control the rest of the match, saving energy for the final. India had their chances but they were few and far between, and the team was guilty of holding on to the ball too much and dribbling, rather than passing to each other.

India did pull a goal back, virtually on the final hooter, through Boby Singh Dhami. But by then, it was purely academic, and the tie had been decided long since.