India defeated Spain to reach the semi-finals.
India defeated Spain to reach the semi-finals.
(Photo: FIH / Frank Uijlenbroek)

India are the first team to qualify for Friday’s semi-finals at Women’s ERGO Hockey Junior World Cup in Mönchengladbach. The young Indian team celebrated a deserved 4-2 victory over Spain in Thursday’s first quarter-final.
India have thus reached the top four for the first time in Junior World Cup history. In the Pitch 2 match, Korea recorded a 3-1 win over Canada to move into the 9-12th place bracket.

Spain v India 2-4 (2-2)

Both teams entered the pitch with great intensity. Spain won an early penalty corner which resulted in a well worked goal, Patricia Marana passing the ball to Xantal Gine who smashed it into the bottom of the goal. But India replied immediately equalising through Monika. The score stood at 1-1 after ten minutes of play.

Afterwards it were India that dominated ball possession and had better scoring opportunities than Spain but failed to convert them. However, Spain took the 2-1 lead against the run of play five minutes before halftime when team-captain Berta Bonastre scored from open play. Once again, India did not take long to strike back. Navneet Kaur equalised with an outstanding reverse stick shot to level the match at 2-2 at halftime.

India started into the second half with real fire. Ponnamma Mallamada Narendra converted a penalty corner giving India their first lead in this match. They kept on pushing their opponents into their own half. Rani extended the lead 4-2 midway in the second half when she penetrated the circle on the right and scored from a reverse stick strike.

Spain’s first penalty corner in the second half came in the 53rd minute but the shot was blocked. With eight minutes remaining on the clock they won another penalty corner but Marana’s attempt was saved by Indian captain Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam. Afterwards another penalty corner shot from Gine went wide. Spain tried hard to come back but ended up losing 4-2.    

Voices after the match:

Neil Hawgood, Indian coach: “The success has come from all the big losses as we have been beaten by the top teams in the world in World League Round 3. Now, this senior experience helps the girls here at the Junior World Cup. The girls were a bit nervous at the beginning but they showed character and continued to work for 70 minutes.”

Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Indian captain: “Today’s key was the scoring and the team spirit. We decided to win this match and played fast throughout the whole game. We are very excited now as we have never reached the semi-finals before. Of course we would love to qualify for the final.”

Rani, 4-2 goal scorer: “This is amazing. It is a great day for Hockey in India. I knew that we will win today if we keep up the pressure.”

Jorge Donoso Bailon, Spanish coach: “India is a great team. They were really fast with their dangerous counter-attacks.” 

Korea v Canada 3-1 (1-0)

Korea started into their first classification match strong, not leaving Canada with much space. Canada struggled to get their feet on the ground for some time. Nonetheless, Korea couldn't build up a convincing lead, scoring only a lone first half goal through their most reliable and leading scorer, Kim Hyun Ji.

Canada came back with verve from the break however and started to challenge their two time champion opponents. They were soon able to get on the scoreboard when Stephanie Norlander put a ball past second goalkeeper Han Mi Jin and proceeded to hold Korea to the draw for the biggest part of the second half.

A late double strike from Cho Hye Jin and Cha Ye Sol, who scored within less than a minute, however put the Korean team ahead for good. The clock ticked down and Canada could not come back from the blow. The match ended 3-1 for Korea, sending the Asian team into the 9-12th place bracket, while Canada will be playing for 13-16th place.

Voices after the match:

Ian Rutledge, Coach Canada: "It was an exeptional performance from both teams, and that's what international hockey is about, and that's what the Junior World Cup is about. It's an opportunity for the girls to play international hockey against different styles and  think that both teams played an exceptional style. We played against a well structured Korean team, our performance was solid, but as the game was even, it could go either way, and that's what happened. The most important thing for the next game is to be the same team and keep our structure and stick to the game plan. The girls are doing pretty well. It's just a matter of keeping a good structure."