Junior World Cup: India stamps its class with 4-0 win over Canada

India showed its class by overpowering Canada 4-0 in its opening match of the 13th Hockey Junior World Cup at Major Dhyan Chand stadium in Lucknow on Thursday.

hockey world cup

Indian colts celebrate after scoring a goal against Canada on Thursday.   -  PTI

harmanpreet singh

Harmanpreet Singh doubled India's lead with a penalty stroke in the 46th minute.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Fog threatened to disrupt but eventually stayed away long enough to ensure that India, despite playing at less than full tilt, began its campaign in the Junior World Cup with a comprehensive 4-0 victory in Pool D against Canada at the Major Dhyan Chand stadium here on Thursday.

With adverse conditions in the city over the past week being a concern, the match began 15 minutes before scheduled time, with good reason. Ten minutes into the game, visibility dropped quite a bit before it recovered and the Indian team's performance lifted proportionately.

The host began nervously, taking time to settle down and missing quite a few early chances. Despite the difference in experience and level of both sides, Canada managed a stubborn defence, forcing India to try variations upfront. The first came in the second minute itself and Armaan Qureshi stuck the sideboard in the fourth but thereafter, the team was happy with possession play.

“Actually, I did expect Canada to play so defensively,” coach Oltmans said after the game. And captain Harjeet admitted it were a nervous few minutes for the team early on as India kept changing flanks trying to get into the striking circle. “It was the first game but we were always confident of coming back,” he said.

A couple of penalty corners went waste and Parvinder Singh's deflection in the 32nd minute came off the upright. Canadian goalkeeper Iqwinder Gill stood firm before Mandeep Singh finally broke through in the final seconds of the opening half – the matches are being played in the old 35x2 halves format here – knocking in a rebound to go into the break on a high.

The second half was a completely different affair. India pressed harder, pushed ahead aggressively and completely dominated the proceedings. If the host had hopes to give some valuable match practice to goalkeeper Krishan Pathak, it was fruitless with the ball rarely coming close to the Indian circle.

A penalty stroke in the 45th minute doubled the lead, Varun Kumar made it 3-0 despite Harjeet fumbling with stopping the ball on a PC and Ajit Pandey rounded up in 65th minute, deflecting in a rebound after Manpreet's shot, beating two defenders on the backline, was gloved by Gill.

“There are always areas to improve but going by the way we entered the circle, created chances, did not concede a single PC and stayed true to our team's structure, I am completely satisfied with the boys. 4-0 is a very good scoreline to start a tournament,” coach Harendra Singh said.

Earlier, two-time defending champion Germany needed a late strike from Timm Herzbuch to open its title defence with a shaky 2-1 win against Spain in Pool C. Germany went ahead in the 25th minute through Anton Boeckel but Spain not only struck back post break but also threatened to upset the six-time champion before Herzbuch helped Germany scrape through.

The day's opening match saw New Zealand beat Japan 1-0 in Pool C, courtesy Oliver Logan's penalty corner, and England made its title ambitions clear with a 4-2 win against South Africa in Pool D.

The results: Pool C: New Zealand 1 (Oliver Logan) bt Japan 0; Germany 2 (Anton Boeckel, Timm Herzbruch) bt Spain 1 (Manual Fabregas I Bordas); Pool D: England 4 (Edward Horler 2, Peter Scott, Jonathan Griffiths) bt South Africa 2 (Matthew De Sousa, Ryan Crowe), India 4 (Mandeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Ajit Pandey) bt Canada 0.

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