Indian hockey is slowly but steadily looking forward to a brighter future. The junior national team asserted the fact once again as it defeated Belgium 2-1 in the Junior Hockey World Cup Final in Lucknow on Sunday. Gurjant Singh (8th minute) and Simranjeet Singh (22nd minute) were the scorers for India against their European rivals. After Germany, India are only the second team to win the Junior Hockey World Cup more than once. This was India’s second Junior Hockey World Cup triumph after 2001. The juniors’ achievement comes on the heels of senior team’s decent show at the Rio Olympics and the Asian Champions Trophy win. The men’s hockey team also finished runners-up at the 2016 Champions Trophy.
Having come into the final with wins against teams like Australia and Spain, India started as the favourites against Belgium. While in many of their previous matches India came back strong after conceding a goal, the story was different against Belgium. The host team took an early lead in the eighth minute when Gurjant broke the deadlock with a magnificent reverse hit past the Belgian keeper. Just 14 minutes later, Simranjeet doubled India’s lead with a superb field goal from edge of the circle.
Though Belgium showed gumption to fight and earned a penalty corner towards the end of the first half, India held on to their lead and went into the breather with two goal-lead.
Belgium a case too little too late
The story did not change as India kept pressing for more goals in the second half as the Belgians found it hard to stop the rampaging Indian players. However, despite earning three penalty corners India could not increase the lead. The Belgians, meanwhile, failed to find any major goal-scoring opportunity till the last minute of play.
Belgium scored one in the 78th minute as Fabrice Van Boackaijck succesfully converted a penalty corner but it was too little to stop India from their second-ever world junior title.