MEN’S JUNIOR HOCKEY WORLD CUP 2023: GERMANY LIFT TITLE
Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur city: Germany defeated France 2-1 in the final at National Hockey Stadium Bukit Jalil on Saturday night to win the Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup 2023. After defeating India 3-1 in a play-off at the same location prior to the championship match, Spain finished the tournament in third place.
Germany’s Joshua Onyekwue Nnaji was named best goalkeeper of the tournament, while France’s Gaspard Xavier was named player of the tournament and also took home the FIH Rising Star award.
Argentina beat Pakistan (6-3)
Argentina concluded their tournament with a 6-3 victory over Pakistan. The first goal came from the South Americans, a drag flick from Tomas Ruiz looping back to him off the goalkeeper for an easy tap in. Argentina took the lead again through a low drag flick from Ruiz, but Arbaz Ahmad of Pakistan answered with a drag flick. Five minutes later, they gave up the ball carelessly, allowing Ahmad to score from the ensuing penalty kick. The score was 2-2 at the half.
Argentina survived another poor turnover in the opening minute of the second half before going ahead again, Joaquin Toscani making a devastating run from midfield to feed Ramiro Infanzon for a deflection. The Argentinians extended their lead when Ignacio Nardolillo stole a ball 60m out and fed Bautista Capurro who screamed in his reverse shot. Ahmad then handed Pakistan a lifeline, completing his hat-trick from another penalty stroke, but Argentina responded immediately with an Ignacio Persoglio drag flick. Juan Fernandez then sealed the match and 7th place in the tournament for Argentina with a deflection from open play.
Netherlands beat Australia (2-1):
The Netherlands defeated Australia 2-1 thanks to their dominance in the stats and their patient use of possession. In the first half, the Australians created some dangerous deflection opportunities, but overall, the Dutch had the better opportunities. After failing to clear a loose ball, Australian goalkeeper Max Larkin produced a fantastic stick save to deny Timo Boers from a penalty corner in the 14th minute. Dylan Lucieer then pounced on the scraps to give the Netherlands a 1-0 lead at halftime.
The Dutch controlled the second half, starving Australia of possession and testing the excellent Larkin repeatedly before Bouwe Buitenhuis popped a delicate overhead to unmarked Casper van der Veen on the p-spot for their second goal. Cooper Burns gave Australia faint hopes after rifling in a drag flick from a penalty corner just 90 seconds from time, but the Dutch secured the win and with that, fifth place in the tournament.
Spain beat India (3-1)
In the third-place playoff match, Spain defeated India 3-1, demonstrating that they were the superior team that day. India started the first half stronger but was unable to overcome Jan Capellades in goal, with the score being tied at half. After that, the patient Spanish team gained momentum, and Nicolas Alvarez scored a field goal to give them the lead. Before the half, India tied the score at 1-1 thanks to a penalty corner from Sunil Jojo, who was the first to respond quickly to the rebound.
Spain dominated in the third quarter, but Indian goalkeeper Mohith Shashikumar proved up to the task. Capellades then made an excellent save for Spain before Pau Petchame finally snuck one through the Indian defence to regain the lead. Spain put the game out of reach in the final quarter, Pol Cabre Verdiell crossing to Alvarez for a deflection. India had opportunities to claw their way back through several penalty corners, but Capellades kept them out, with some assistance from the crossbar, and Spain secured a well-deserved bronze medal.
Germany beat France (2-1):
In a fitting finale, both teams had spells of dominance as Germany overcame France 2-1 after falling behind. In the first minute, French goalkeeper Marius Clément made the perfect angle to deny the Germans an early lead. The ball was then mishandled by a German defender, setting Tom Gaillard up for a clear shot that he sadly missed. As the first quarter came to a close, Clément once more responded swiftly to stop Ben Hasbach. In the second half, Jules Verrier gave France the lead after a brilliant pass from Louis Haertelmeyer. He then outran several defenders and beat the goalkeeper at close range. France led 1-0 at the half after a fiercely contested second half.
The momentum was building for Germany though, and Jan Cordes pounced on a poor French clearance to slap in an equaliser for Germany in the second minute of the half. Liam Holdermann added an excellent field goal, holding his shot until Clément committed himself. Paul Glander nearly made it three from a penalty corner, but Clément made an incredible save to keep France in the hunt. The French attacked freely in the final quarter but couldn’t find a way through, and Germany claimed the gold medal for the seventh time.
Final standings:1 Germany, 2 France, 3 Spain, 4 India, 5 Netherlands, 6 Australia, 7 Argentina, 8 Pakistan, 9 Belgium, 10 South Africa, 11 New Zealand, 12 Malaysia, 13 Korea, 14 Egypt, 15 Chile, 16 Canada