India bow out after draw with Korea

Clark's boys fail to cash in on advantage; Pak exit

India bow out after draw with Korea

 India failed to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Hero Junior Hockey World Cup after slumping from a winning position against Korea. Leading 3-1 at one stage, the hosts allowed Korea to draw level and left a handsome home gathering shell shocked at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Tuesday.

India did well to come from behind to lead 2-1 at half-time, thanks to Gurjinder Singh’s twin strikes (32nd, 35th). Mandeep Singh further consolidated their position by scoring in the 45th minute. But Korea, who needed just a draw to make the cut, upped the ante. Their star player was Seungju You (3rd, 58th, 60th) who scored a treble, all from penalty corners. Two of his strikes within a space of two minutes is what poured cold water on India's hopes.

Left with 10 minutes to take the lead, the home team could merely create half-chances. Korea goalkeeper Lee Seyoung made a brilliant save in the dying minutes and Indian players threw their hockey sticks in despair once the buzzer went off. 

Still, despite all the shortcomings, it was India who largely dominated the match. In an eventful first-half, India were quick to attack to garner their first penalty corner as early as in the second minute. Their show of purpose, however, soon gave way to frazzled nerves.

The Indians were inconsistent in their passes and trapping. Their lack of coordination made it difficult for them to cut through the Korean defence. The drama only heightened when Mandeep missed a sitter from top of the circle in the 11th minute.

The Koreans made the most of it by earning three penalty corners. They wasted two of them but were third time lucky to set panic in the Indian ranks.

The hosts launched themselves forward in a frenzied rush for the equaliser but Amit Rohitdas wasted the second penalty corner as well.  Just when the possibilities seemed to be shrinking, Ramandeep Singh made a good inroad into the Korean circle to gift India their third penalty corner.

A referral by Korea caused some anxious moments before it went in India’s favour. This time, penalty-corner specialist Gurjinder was present to take the strike and with a clean hit drew parity. They took the lead within three minutes when Manpreet Singh broke into the Korean circle to hand India their fourth penalty corner. Gurjinder converted it with a clean strike and India finished the first-half leading 2-1.

A confident India asserted itself in the second-half to strike again.  Ramandeep pierced the defence to send a pass to Satbir Singh. Satbir’s firm strike was then deflected by Mandeep and India were inches close to the finishing line.

But Koreans, not the ones to throw in their towel till the last, struck back to land a brutal blow to India, considered among the favourites ahead of the tournament. They now play Argentina in classifications matches for 9-12 position.

 In Pool A, Pakistan bowed out after a2-2 draw with Belgium.

Results: Germany: 6 (Own goal 4th, Niklas Bruns 19th, 68th, Christopher Ruhr 42nd, 56th, Mathias Muller 52nd) bt Egypt: 0.

Belgium: 2 (Maxime Plennevaux 60th, 65th) drew with Pakistan: 2 (Muhammad Dilber 41st, 54th). Netherlands: 7 (Tom Hiebendaal 10th, Rik van Jan 21st, Milan van Baal 23rd, 47th, Roel  Bovendeert  34th, 64th, Tristan  Algera 57th) bt Canada: 0. India: 3 (Gurjinder Singh 32nd, 35th, Mandeep Singh 45th) drew with Korea: 3 (Seungju You 16th, 58th,60th).

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