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Junior Men's Hockey WC: India lose in bronze medal playoff

Source: PTI
December 16, 2023 19:19 IST
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IMAGE: India went down to Spain in the bronze medal playoff match. Photograph: Hockey India/X

India's hopes of redeeming some pride in the junior men's hockey World Cup remained only a dream as they lost 1-3 to Spain in the bronze medal playoff in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

Goals from Nicolas Alvarez (25th and 51st minute) and Petchame Pau (40th) sealed the deal in Spain's favour as Sunil Jojo's 28th-minute penalty-corner strike was the only saving grace for the two-time junior world champion Indians, whose perennial frailty with penalty corner conversions came to the fore yet again on Saturday.

This was India's second defeat to Spain in this edition of the tournament, having lost to the European team 1-4 in the pool stages. India had also finished fourth in the last edition of the tournament in 2021 in Bhubaneswar.


Spain, following the win against the Uttam Singh-led side, equalled their best showing in the global tournament, adding to the bronze they had won in the 2005 edition in Rotterdam, beating India 6-5 on penalties.

Spain were clearly the dominant side and India would have lost by a bigger margin had it not been for some plucky saves by India goalkeeper Mohith Shashikumar after half-time.

Mohith effected two brilliant saves in the 33rd minute when the Spanish attackers had virtually run over the Indian defence. Mohith's fine anticipation saw him save two shots at the goal to keep the scoreline 1-1.

Alvarez opened the scoring for Spain in the 25th minute, when he pulled away on the left flank all the way to the goalmouth before sending in a diagonal shot, which got deflected off the goalkeeper's gloves into the goal.

Three minutes later, India struck the equaliser with Sunil Jojo scoring from the follow-up of a penalty corner. Jojo's quick anticipation saw him score with a flick after the Spanish goalkeeper had saved the first attempt.

On a day when India again failed miserably with PC conversions, quite like the semifinal against Germany where they wasted a dozen of them in the 1-4 thrashing, they also seemed to lack the will to go all out. Barring Jojo's 28th minute conversion, rest of the eight PC attempts went abegging.

Spain's high-press game saw Petchame Pau again give his team the lead in the 40th minute, sending the ball past Mohith.

India's disjointed defence took another goal in the 51st minute when Cabre Verdiell's run on the left found Alvarez, who deflected the ball into the goal as Mohith drifted to the other corner.

As the timer clicked away, there was desperation in the Indian camp, which resulted in a couple of collisions, leading to Petchame limping off three minutes before the final hooter and Pere Amat also seeking the team physio's help.

India last stood on the podium in 2016 when they won the gold medal in the Lucknow edition of the tournament. Their first title triumph had come in Hobart in 2001, before finishing runners-up in in Milton Keynes, England in 1997.

Meanwhile, Germany, who finished runners-up in 2021, will play France in the summit clash.

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