Bansal praises gritty India juniors

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The India coach heaps praises on drag-flicker Diwakar Ram, who helped India come back from 0-2 down to win the Junior Asia Cup.

Updated: July 23, 2008 18:19 IST
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An elated coach AK Bansal hailed drag-flicker Diwakar Ram as the new star of Indian hockey after the youngster played a major role in India retaining the junior Asia Cup, scoring a brace including the match winner in the final against Korea here.

"Diwakar had been exceptional throughout the tournament and today also he showed his potential by first rescuing the team with an equaliser and then scoring the tournament-winning golden goal. India now has two exceptional drag-flickers in him and Sandeep," Bansal told reporters while his boys were celebrating after a hard-fought 3-2 win.

Bansal conceded that the Koreans were playing better in the first half but heaped praise on his charges for making a brilliant comeback in the second session.

"The boys were not playing good in the first half and they were not converting chances that came their way which made the Koreans keep up the pressure. But they came back remarkably well from 0-2 down. Once we scored the first goal it was a real fight back from there," he said.

"It was a team effort though as in other earlier matches Diwakar came up with an inspiring performance," Bansal added.

Young Diwakar, who won the trophy for highest goal scorer with 11 goals, was a satisfied man after helping his side win the tournament to defend the title.

"I am really feeling good. Though the pressure was continuously there but we proved it finally and we did it," he said.

"India failed to make it to the Olympics but this win was really good. From here I will work harder to do more for my country," added the youngster from Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh.

Korean coach Lim Jung Woo said his gameplan to keep the Indians at bay was working till late into the match but somehow his boys lost the plot towards the close.

"The first goal by the Indians was a turning point and the second goal by Diwakar Ram further helped them in consolidating," he said.

"I had told my boys to look out for Diwakar. I think our goalkeeper was upto the task to save the early penalty corners but Diwakar's second and finally the third goal was unstoppable," conceded the Korean coach.

South Korean Nam Hyun Woo won the player of the tournament award while India's P. R. Sreejesh won the best goalkeeper award.

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