Bhubaneswar: The defending champions India on Saturday stormed into the quarter-finals of the FIH Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup 2021 here at the Kalinga stadium. The hosts defeated Poland by 8-2 and sealed the second spot in Pool B.
The winners of the 2016 edition India will meet the runners-up Belgium in the quarter-finals.
India started off well, taking an early lead in the fourth minute. The jersey no.7 Sanjay netted his seventh goal in the tournament. India earned a penalty corner in the seventh minute but the opponent side Poland’s defence denied them a second goal. However, in the following minute, Araijeet Singh Hundal made no mistake and converted a penalty corner into India’s second goal of the day.
On the stroke of the first quarter whistle, Poland was awarded a penalty corner. But the hosts India saved it, ending the quarter in their favour with a 2-0 lead against Poland. India continued to control the proceedings in the second quarter. Soon, the team’s captain Vivek Sagar Prasad was handed a green card, forcing him to stay off the ground for the next two minutes.
The hosts extended their lead, with a brilliant field goal by Sudeep Chirmako in the 24th minute. India colts ended the first half with a dominant 3-0 lead against the visiting side Poland.
In the third quarter, Uttam Singh scored his fourth goal of the tournament in the 35th minute. Shardanand Tiwari joined the party as he slapped a penalty corner into the goalpost. With great teamwork between Gurmukh Singh and Sudeep, India netted their sixth goal. Gurmukh brought the ball into the circle and Sudeep finished off the job in style.
In the 44th minute, Poland earned two back-to-back penalty corners but on both occasions, India defended it and ended the third quarter with a 6-0 lead against a struggling Poland. India captain Vivek was handed a yellow card at the start of the fourth and final quarter and subsequently, he had to sit out for the next five minutes. This didn’t affect India as they stood tall and saved another back-to-back penalty corner that was awarded to Poland.
Poland earned yet another penalty corner in the 50th minute, but this time Wojciech Rutkowski opened his side’s account. Poland pulled another one back, with Robert Pawlak taking his team to 2-6 against India. In the dying moments, India scored two back-to-back goals, with Sanjay netting a field goal followed by Araijeet who went past Poland’s defence to score his second goal of the match.