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Junior India hockey team in final
A Correspondent | January 25, 2008 17:21 IST
India are in the final of the men's Junior Eight-nation Invitational hockey tournament, in Bukit Jalil, Malaysia.
With still a match to go, against Holland, in the round-robin league, which is being played on the lines of the Champions Trophy, India, unbeaten with 16 points from six matches and atop the table, are assured of a place in the title round.
Holland, who meet India on Saturday, need to win or draw the match to secure a place in Sunday's final.
Australia, with 12 points, can make it to the final if Holland lose to India and they win their last match against New Zealand.
India started their campaign in the tournament, scoring resounding 6-1 victories over Korea and New Zealand in their first two matches. After drawing 1-1 with Pakistan, they beat Australia 2-1, Germany 5-1 and Malaysia 4-1.
The hero of the impressive showing is young drag-flicker Diwarkar Ram, who is the tournament's leading scorer with nine goals. He, incidentally, was the top scorer in a tournament in Germany, where the junior Indian team played a few months ago before the Premier Hockey League in Chandigarh.
The other drag-flickers doing well in the junior tournament are Wredden Van Der Mink from Holland, Jeong Yun Sang from Korea, who both have five goals to their name, and Australia's Timothy Bates, with four goals.
Diwakar has not only excelled as a drag-flicker, but good tackling and anticipations, unlike some specialist drag-flickers who are not up to the mark when it comes to defending, has seen him cement his place in the first eleven.
A K Bansal is the team's chief coach. He is being assisted former India players Rajesh Chauhan and Devesh Chauhan, who is the goalkeeping coach. Mervyn Fernandis is the team manager.
This tournament is good exposure not only for India but also for Pakistan, Korea and Malaysia, which are preparing for the Junior Asia Cup, to be held in Hyderabad in August. The top three teams in the Junior Asia Cup qualify for the Junior World Cup finals in 2009, which will be co-hosted by Malaysia and Singapore.