India beat Germany to reach Junior World Cup final

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> India beat Germany 3-2 to reach the final of the Junior World Cup Hockey tournament in Hobart.

Updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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Riding on a brilliant display of slick passing and some classy defending, India overcame a determined fightback by Germany to win 3-2 and storm into the final of the 7th Junior World Cup Hockey Championships in Hobart today. With this remarkable win, India entered the final of the World Cup for the second consecutive time. India reached the final in the last edition in 1997 at Milton Keynes (England) where they lost 2-3 to Australia. For Germany, this was the second consecutive semifinal defeat in the Junior World Cup final at the hands of India. In the last edition, they had lost 3-4. India today looked like running away with the match when they led 3-0 at half-time. The Indian goals came through Kanwalpreet Singh (2nd minute), Inderjeet Singh (23rd) and Arjun Halappa (34th minute). Credit should be given to the Germans who fought back brilliantly in the second half to score through Florian Keller (52nd) and Matthias Witthaus (66th). But the Indian defence held on and did not allow the Germans to score the equalizer. A beaming Indian coach Rajinder Singh was all praise for the boys. "I had said beforehand that if the forwards score, then you can't stop India from winning. We had opportunities in the first half and the boys did well to utilize them. In the second half, Germany was expected to throw everything to us and we decided to pull one midfielder away and strengthen the defence. It paid off as we kept them away especially in the penalty corners where Devesh Chauhan and Jugraj Singh did a great job," he said. Within a minute of the start, Bimal Lakra's scoop from the Indian half found Deepak Thakur in the German circle but the advancing goalkeeper used a body check and the umpire ruled a penalty stroke in favour of India. Kanwalpreet Singh's flick was waist high but good enough to beat the German keeper. Two minutes on the board and India were already 1-0 ahead. India were playing well in the midfield where Ignace Tirkey and Bimal Lakra were having a field day, spraying passes for the forwards. By the 20th minute, Germany had two penalty corners but both were wasted. India went ahead in the 23rd minute when Deepak Thakur, the tournament's highest scorer with seven goals, ran all the way into the German half, ducked two defenders and passed superbly to Inderjeet Singh who forced out the German 'keeper and finished amazingly to give India a 2-0 lead. From a midfield move on the left, came India's third goal. Tejbir Singh trapped the ball a little outside the circle and after going past two German midfielders, gave it to Arjun Hallapa who turned smartly and shot past the shocked German goalkeeper. At the break, India led 3-0. After resumption, Germany came back with new tactics and decided to post an extra forward upfront while pulling away one from the midfield. They had to get the goals and a gap in the midfield did not matter much at such a stage. India could have taken advantage of the weakened midfield but they were also pulling men into the defence knowing that Germany will go for an all-out attack. After wasting a penalty corner in the 47th minute, Germany were on target with their fifth as Florian Keller flicked powerfully to beat Chauhan in goal in the 52nd minute. Germany were thereon in an attack mode as they kept the ball in the Indian half and really piled on the pressure. They had four consecutive penalty corners in the 55th, 56th, 57th and 58th minutes. But the Indian goalkeeper Chauhan and defender Jugraj Singh saved brilliantly. After India had wasted an important goal opportunity, coach Rajinder Singh pulled out one man from the midfield and brought him into the defence. At one point of time, there were six players in the defence trying to keep the Germans away. The Germans consistently fought back and after wasting their 10th penalty corner, they finally scored off a field goal by Matthias Witthaus. For both the sides nerves were almost at breaking point as the German bench egged on their players to get the equaliser while the Indian bench cheered their defence while keeping an eye on the clock all the time. Time finally ran out and the ecstatic Indians hugged each other, basked in the glory of victory. In the final on Sunday, India will meet winners of the second semi-final between Argentina and England. (PTI)

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