Germany will play India and France will take on Spain in the semi-finals of the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup after a day of action-packed quarter-final matches in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The first encounter of the day pitted the defending champions, Argentina, against the team they beat in the 2021 final to claim that title, Germany, with the Germans pulling off a thrilling 2-1 victory this time around.
Former champions India came from behind on two occasions to earn their semi-final spot with a hard-fought 4-3 win over the Netherlands, while 2021 bronze medallists France defeated Australia 3-2 and Spain beat Pakistan 4-2.
Here’s how all four matches played out on Day 8…
Argentina vs Germany (Full-Time Score: 1-2)
Defending champions Argentina went down 1-2 in a thriller against Germany. The Germans had better possession in a goalless first half but it was their keeper, Joshua Nnaji Onyekwue, who had to make an excellent diving save from a blistering Inaki Minadeo drag flick.
The Germans were eventually rewarded for their dominance in the third quarter, Hugo von Montgelas turning his marker inside out at the top of the circle and firing home. Soon after, Paul Glander shaped up for a drag flick and slipped it left for Jakob Brilla to rocket home for a two-goal lead. But Argentina refused to lie down and Nnaji Onyekwue was again called on to deny them as the quarter ended. Argentina came alive early in the final quarter, Agustin Bonanno scoring early to set up a nail-biting finish. Argentina created numerous opportunities with a flurry of shots, five penalty corners, and a penalty stroke. They even subbed their keeper off with six minutes to play, but the German defence held firm around Onyekwue.
Player of the match Matteo Poljaric said: “It was a crazy emotional game. I think we had a really, really good first half and we kept on fighting. They had many PCs, we had incredible defence on the PCs today and I think we are just happy to win this really tough fight against Argentina.”
Netherlands vs India (Full-Time Score: 3-4)
India came from behind twice in their gutsy 4-3 victory over a dominant Netherlands team. The Dutch had the perfect start, Timo Boers’ fifth-minute drag flick deflecting in high off the first wave’s foot, and Pepijn van der Heijden adding a second with a blistering low drag. That meant India went into the break trailing 0-2.
The Indians fought back early in the second half, Araijeet Singh Hundal’s brilliant skills along the baseline setting up Aditya Arjun Lalage for a tap-in. Hundal drew India level a minute later with a penalty stroke, only for Olivier Hortensius to regain the lead for the Dutch with an excellent penalty corner deflection late in the third quarter. India weren’t done yet though, and Sourabh Anand Kushwaha drew them level once more with eight minutes left in the match. Captain Uttam Singh finally put India in front with four minutes remaining, completing a perfect penalty corner deflection from the p-spot. The Dutch immediately substituted their keeper and applied immense pressure, winning seven penalty corners in the last 90 seconds. But India defended these bravely with the keeper only being called on to save one as his runners charged the rest down, leaving the Dutch to rue many missed opportunities.
Player of the match Rohit said: “We always stuck to the plan. We were doing mistakes but after the break we boosted up ourselves, the coaches boosted us, and we came with a good comeback.”
France vs Australia (Full-Time Score: 3-2)
France emerged victorious in their 3-2 clash with Australia. There was very little to separate the teams until Noé Jouin’s diving deflection at the right post from a penalty corner in the 17th minute. Gaspard Denis pounced on a loose ball outside the Australian circle four minutes later and was allowed to run unchecked towards goal before popping it over the keeper’s shoulder from close range for a 2-0 lead.
The teams traded goals within a minute of each other to end the third quarter, Jouin bagging a carbon copy of his first sliding deflection, and Australia hitting back with a Cooper Burns field goal. Burns converted an excellent penalty corner variation for his second early in the fourth quarter, setting up a tense finish. Australia had three penalty corners in the final 90 seconds but they were denied, first by the runner, then by keeper Marius Clement, and finally by a brave Tassilo Sura on the post.
Player of the match Noé Jouin reflected: “Kind of a rollercoaster of emotion. I think we started not pretty good but then we scored two quick goals and that kind of put the energy very high in our team. Our strength throughout the tournament has been our defence, I think all the guys are ready to die on the pitch. I don’t know what to say. It’s incredible, we train all year to play these kinds of matches .”
Spain vs Pakistan (Full-Time Score: 4-2)
Spain maintained their tournament momentum in an entertaining 4-2 win against Pakistan. The Spaniards were denied an early lead as Ali Raza made a good penalty corner save, and Pakistan then struck through captain Shahid Hannan’s field goal. Abdul Rafay made an excellent save to maintain Pakistan’s lead, and the rest of the half was tightly contested with both defences being tested.
Still a goal down, Spain started well in the second half and were rewarded when Pol Cabre Verdiell and Aleix Bozal scored drag flicks within a minute of each other to go ahead. Jan Capellades denied Pakistan an equaliser with a good bit of positional keeping, and Spain immediately broke out for Pablo Espino to finish a good team goal. Sufyan Khan scored a drag flick to bring Pakistan back within one, but Cabre Verdiell responded immediately with another drag flick for the two-goal cushion. There were good scoring opportunities at both ends in the final quarter but neither defence could be breached.
Player of the match Jan Capellades said: “I’m very, very happy now. I want to thank my goalkeeper trainer. I feel amazing. We want to win against France. With hard work and belief we can win it”
To see the full match schedule, click here.
FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Malaysia 2023 – 12 December 2023
Bukit Jalil National Hockey Stadium, Kuala Lumpur
Result: Match 29
Argentina 1-2 Germany
Player of the Match: Matteo Poljaric (GER)
Umpires: James Unkles (AUS) and Nazmi Kamaruddin (MAS)
Result: Match 30
Netherlands 3-4 India
Player of the Match: Rohit (IND)
Umpires: Nick Bennett (ENG) and Benjamin Peeters (USA)
Result: Match 31
France 3-2 Australia
Player of the Match: Noé Jouin (FRA)
Umpires: Bevan Nichol (NZL) and Tim Meissner (GER)
Result: Match 32
Spain 4-2 Pakistan
Player of the Match: Jan Capellades (ESP)
Umpires: Antonio Ilgrande (ITA) and Bruce Bale (ENG)