WORLD CUP FOR JUNIORS HOCKEY: SPAIN SCATTERS’ DREAMS
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: In the final quarterfinal of the Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup 2023, Spain’s 15-minute third-quarter game easily defeated Pakistan’s efforts and tactics as Pol Cabre scored three goals in a row on the sixth and seventh penalty corners of National Hockey Stadium Bukit Jalil on Tuesday.
After maintaining their lead in the first half, Pakistan took a 1-0 lead when captain Abdul Hanan Shahid scored in the fourth minute of the second quarter. The third quarter proved to be a nightmare for Pakistan, as the Spanish players capitalised on mistakes committed by their opponents’ defenders. The ultimate score was 4-2.
Germany beat Argentina (2-1):
Argentina, the reigning champions, lost to Germany 1-2 in a thrilling match. In a goalless first half, the Germans had more possession, but their goalkeeper, Joshua Nnaji Onyekwue, was forced to make a fantastic diving save off a lightning-fast drag flick by Inaki Minadeo.
Hugo von Montgelas turned his marker inside out at the top of the circle and fired home, rewarding the Germans for their dominance in the third quarter. Paul Glander quickly positioned himself for a drag flick, slipped it left, and Jakob Brilla blasted it home for a two-goal lead. However, Argentina would not go down, and as the quarter came to an end, Nnaji Onyekwue was once more asked to refute them. Agustin Bonanno’s goal early in the fourth quarter gave Argentina a boost and set up a suspenseful finale. Argentina’s barrage of shots, five penalty corners, and penalty kick created plenty of opportunities. With six minutes remaining, they even replaced their keeper, but the German defence held strong.
India beat Netherlands (4-3):
India came from behind twice in their gutsy 4-3 victory over a dominant Netherlands team. The Dutch had the perfect start, Timo Boers’ fifth-minute drag flick deflecting in high off the first wave’s foot, and Pepijn van der Heijden adding a second with a blistering low drag. That meant India went into the break trailing 0-2.
Early in the second half, the Indians rallied, and Aditya Arjun Lalage’s tap-in was made possible by Araijeet Singh Hundal’s outstanding playmaking along the baseline. A minute later, Hundal tied the score for India with a penalty kick. However, late in the third quarter, Olivier Hortensius gave the Netherlands the lead again with a superb deflection of a penalty corner. With eight minutes remaining in the game, Sourabh Anand Kushwaha pulled India even again, proving that they were far from finished. With four minutes remaining, captain Uttam Singh completed a flawless deflection from the p-spot to win a penalty corner and finally put India ahead. After making an instant change to their keeper, the Dutch put on tremendous pressure and won seven penalty corners in the final ninety seconds. However, India valiantly defended these with
France beat Australia (3-2)
France emerged victorious in their 3-2 clash with Australia. There was very little to separate the teams until Noé Jouin’s diving deflection at the right post from a penalty corner in the 17th minute. Gaspard Denis pounced on a loose ball outside the Australian circle four minutes later and was allowed to run unchecked towards goal before popping it over the keeper’s shoulder from close range for a 2-0 lead.
The third quarter ended with a minute-long exchange of goals between the two teams, with Australia responding with a Cooper Burns field goal and Jouin scoring a carbon copy of his first sliding deflection. Early in the fourth quarter, Burns converted a great variation of a penalty corner for his second, setting up a thrilling finish. In the last ninety seconds, Australia had three penalty corners, but were stopped by the runner, the keeper Marius Clement, and a valiant Tassilo Sura on the post.
Spain beat Pakistan (4-2):
Spain maintained their tournament momentum in an entertaining 4-2 win against Pakistan. The Spaniards were denied an early lead as Ali Raza made a good penalty corner save, and Pakistan then struck through captain Shahid Hannan’s field goal. Abdul Rafay made an excellent save to maintain Pakistan’s lead, and the rest of the half was tightly contested with both defences being tested.
Even with a goal deficit, Spain made a strong start in the second half and took the lead thanks to drag flick goals from Aleix Bozal and Pol Cabre Verdiell that came just a minute apart. With some excellent positional keeping, Jan Capellades kept Pakistan from tying the score, and Spain quickly capitalised through Pablo Espino to complete a strong team goal. After Sufyan Khan scored a drag flick to cut Pakistan’s deficit to one, Cabre Verdiell promptly replied with another drag flick to extend the lead to two goals. In the last quarter, both teams had excellent scoring opportunities, but neither defence was able to be broken.