Junior Hockey World Cup bronze play-off: India vs England

The Indian women’s hockey team will hope that their Junior World Cup campaign will end in a similar way to the 2013 edition where they went on to win the bronze medal. Coincidentally, India lost their semifinal tie against the Netherlands 0-3 in the 2013 edition too, but beat England on penalties to finish third.

Both teams will meet in the bronze medal play-off after suffering defeats in the semifinals. Netherlands beat India 3-0 while England conceded eight goals against Germany.

Here’s all you need to know about the match:

When’s the match: April 12, Tuesday, 5 pm.

Where to watch: Live on Watch Hockey and Fancode.

India’s campaign so far

Overall, it has been an impressive tournament for a team which failed to make the cut in 2016. They won four straight games till the defeat against the Dutch in the semifinals. They won their opening match against Wales 5-1 and defeated this year’s other finalist, Germany, by a 2-1 scoreline, thanks to a solid defensive display. India finished the group stage with a 4-0 win against Malaysia and scored thrice to beat South Korea in the quarters.

India’s semifinal match against the Netherlands was expected to be a close contest but the Dutch showed why they were favourites for their fourth world title. After a good start from India, the Dutch turned the game around with a moment of magic. A sensational team goal, involving 18 passes ended with Tessa Beetsma scoring the opening goal. India managed to stay in the game despite the Dutch dominating the next two quarters. With seven minutes remaining on the clock, the Dutch scored their second goal with Luna Fokke scoring after a superb pass from Noor Omrani.

Seconds later, Jip Dicke scored from a close range to take her goal-scoring tally to 13 in the tournament.

Indian captain Salima Tete noted the team will quickly forget the disappointing result, saying “We are quite disappointed from our match against the Netherlands. We created so many chances but could not convert. It just felt like it wasn’t our day.”

“There is no point thinking about what’s happened in the past. Now we need to be focused on the upcoming match against England. Getting off to a good start against them will definitely give us the right momentum and that is what we will be looking for against them.”

England’s campaign so far

England played only two matches in the group stage after Ukraine withdrew from the tournament. They won their opening match against hosts South Africa 3-0 before clinching a narrow 2-1 win over Ireland. It was an intense, end-to-end game with Ireland opening the scoring early in the first quarter and England equalising after five minutes. England went ahead in the match in the third quarter and then withstood relentless pressure from Ireland to win the match.

England made it to the semifinal after another comeback victory, beating USA 2-1 in the quarters but suffered a horrible 0-8 defeat to Germany on Sunday.

England’s strengths and weaknesses

The fact that England pulled off back-to-back comeback wins to qualify for the semifinals says the team can put up a good fight. That fight went missing against Germany so they will be eager to rectify the same in a crucial medal match.

Skipper Millie Giglio is England’s key player having scored three goals in the tournament. When England were trailing early against Ireland and USA, Giglio’s performance made the difference. She scored crucial equalisers in both games to turn it around.

Considering the fact that India have been fast-starters in every game so far, England will have to be careful to not concede early goals, especially from penalty corners. Ireland scored in the fourth minute and the USA did the same in the third minute through penalty corners. The pattern continued against Germany, when England gave away three goals in the opening quarter, two of those coming from penalty corners.

Lessons for India from the semifinal defeat

Netherlands were far superior to India and they deserved to go through to the final. In fact, as expected, India started the match with their trademark attacking play but the difference from their previous matches was that they couldn’t convert their chances. India could have scored three in the opening quarter itself, with Mumtaz Khan coming close as her diving shot hit the goalpost.

Their performance in the second-half was telling. Instead of raising their level, India became passive and bereft of any impactful attacking moves. They allowed the Dutch the freedom to play their game. The pressing was inadequate in midfield while gaps in the flanks were exploited constantly.

India benefited from scoring early in the previous games but once that went missing against the Dutch, it looked like they didn’t know how to plot a comeback. For a team which scored 14 goals from four matches earlier, it was a bit of a reality-check. However, should India return to their scoring ways against England, they can dream big once more.

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