Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup: In their quest for bronze, it’s India’s chance to sign off with a bigger promise | Hockey News – Times of India

BHUBANESWAR: The promise that the colts have made to Indian hockey and coach Graham Reid has the last chance to add some more belief to it today. Revenge might appear to be the underlying theme of India’s bronze-medal game against France here at the Kalinga Stadium on Sunday, but it’s a deceptive one. The real meaning of India’s last match of this encouraging Junior World Cup campaign is in putting that promise in stone with a flawless performance.
If the defensive structure looked cut out for bigger things in the win (1-0) against Belgium in the quarterfinal, the confidence from the pool stage looked to have turned the strikers a little selfish, and thus ineffective, inside the circle. Against Germany in the semifinal, the defence, too, cracked under pressure, while the forwards repeated their mistakes from the last game. India lost 2-4 in the semi-final.
The field goals India scored in the pool stage were not against oppositions that can match the standards of Belgium and Germany. The team also seemed to have forgotten that their set-pieces on penalty corners (PC) produced 12 goals in three league fixtures. But the strikers could create just one PC each in the quarters and semis, while being guilty of over-carrying the ball in both the knockout matches.
The third place playoff game against France is a chance for the boys to show that the promise they have shown is genuine, and that they can iron out the chinks in their armour by playing smart hockey.
The French team remains the surprise package of the tournament. They won everything in the pool phase, which began with an upset win against defending champions India. That game tightened as it progressed but India’s comeback fell a goal short and France won 5-4.
Of the four quarterfinals, France’s 4-0 win over Malaysia had the most convincing scoreline. Such has been their fairytale run that they never trailed in any of the five games they have played so far in the tournament.
France’s semifinal against Argentina remained goalless in 60 minutes of regulation time, and the South Americans won the shootout 3-1, which followed a nasty on-field argument that required the umpires to separate the players.
A day later, on Friday, investigation into the incident led to the International Hockey Federation (FIH) suspending French player Raife Gonessa for breach of its Code of Conduct. He will miss the third-place playoff match on Sunday.
Germany look poised to win a record seventh title, but Argentina can prove the predictions that are heavily in favour of the Germans in the title clash wrong.
There will be takeaways for each of the 16 teams that participated in this edition of the tournament, and India coach Graham Reid chose the perfect words to sum up what the Junior World Cup is all about.
“The ones that learn the quickest will be the ones that take full advantage.”

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