Junior Hockey World Cup: When goalies backed each other to help India win

Prashant Chauhan and Pawan played their parts as India won against Belgium in the quarterfinals of the men’s hockey Junior World Cup.

Indian junior hockey team goal keepers Prashant Chauhan and Pawan greeting each other after India entered the semi-final in the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2021.   -  The Hindu

Keeping a clean sheet is a matter of pride for any goalkeeper, but it’s rare to see two goalkeepers joining hands to keep their side’s post safe and contribute in the team’s win.

Prashant Chauhan and Pawan, who played alternately to help India beat Belgium 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the men’s hockey Junior World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here on Wednesday, backed each other well.

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“Earlier goalkeepers were changed at halftime (if required). Now with one goalkeeper playing a quarter, we think we can play with full focus. When one goes out, he mentally prepares him to do well on the next opportunity.  For Belgium, we focused on saving penalty corners,” Prashant, hailing from Uttar Pradesh, told The Hindu on Thursday.

Pawan spoke about their camaraderie.

“On the field we compete with each other, but off the field we are good friends. It does not matter whether I start or Prashant starts. Our mindset is whatever time one gets he has to focus on the team’s win. We tried to give our best (in the quarterfinals) and hugged each other after the win.”

During training sessions, they complement each other. “If Prashant does something wrong, then I point it out. If I make a mistake, then he guides me. Our bonding is good and we discuss each other’s game,” said Uttarakhand lad Pawan.

The two also work with defenders.

“We motivate each other and focus on our structure and planning (before a match). The goalkeeper does the calling. He watches the whole field and can say when and whom to tackle and which side to block,” said Pawan, looking forward to continuing the fine job in India's forthcoming matches.

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Both have a common idol, Olympic medallist P.R. Sreejesh. “We have learnt a lot from Sreejesh bhai. In the last camp he told us a lot of things about the game. He is our idol,” said Prashant.

“In India he is the idol of every young goalkeeper. For 21 years he has served the country. We learn a lot as he shares his experience with us,” said Pawan.

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