Lucknow (16 Dec, 2016): Host India and Belgium qualified for the final of the Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup Men Lucknow 2016 on Friday.
The Indians reached the final for the third time in history since 1979 inaugural event in France. They lost to Australia 3-2 in the 1997 final in Milton Keynes, England but defeated Argentina 6-1 in the 2001 final held in Hobart, Australia.
As for the Belgians, this is their first ever appearance in the final.
Loic van Doren was the hero in the shoot-out against Germany after the match ended in a scoreless draw as Belgium ended six-time champion Germany’s hopes of winning a third successive title, following their triumphs in 2009 and 2013, with a 4-3 victory here.
Host India also overcame Australia 4-2 in penalty shoot-out following a 2-2 draw in regulation time to give the capacity crowd at the Lucknow’s Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium reasons to celebrate.
Germany and Australia will compete in the bronze medal match, which takes place ahead of the final.
In the first semi-final, Belgium’s Red Cougars were marginally the better team in the first half, with Germany’s goalkeeper Lennart Küppers forced into making several saves from Thomas Verheijen.
However, the Germans returned in the second half a transformed side, with the exceptional Timm Herzbruch causing the Belgian defence no end of problems and keeping goalkeeper Loic van Doren extremely active.
Germany’s Jan Schiffer came closest to breaking the deadlock with a far post deflection, but failed to hit the target.
Belgium took an early lead in the shoot-out when Loic van Doren forced an error from Philip Schmid, but a fine save from Germany’s Niklas Garst, who replaced Küppers for the shoot-out, left things level after four rounds.
The decisive moment arrived when Van Doren denied Timm Herzbruch, before Robbert Rubens slammed the ball home to send an elated Belgium into their first men’s Junior World Cup Final.
“I’ve been training a lot, analyzing all the stats and all the movements, and I think all of that training helped us win today. We are really going for gold now. We’re in the final it is going to be an amazing game,” said Van Doren.
An estimated 7,000 fans packed the stadium to watch the host in the second semi-final match against Australia and were treated to an exhilarating encounter.
Tom Craig put Australia ahead in the first half but Gurjant Singh equalised for India with a stunning run and reverse stick finish in the 48th minute before Mandeep Singh’s superb steal-and-shot put the hosts into a 2-1 lead. Lachlan Sharp made it 2-2 in the 57th minute to force the game into a shoot-out.
However, much to the delight of the home fans, India scored all four of their goals in the shoot-out with Matthew Bird and Lachlan Sharp proving unsuccessful as India reached their first Junior World Cup final since winning the competition in 2001.
Earlier in the day, a last-gasp strike from Koji Yamasaki gave Japan a 2-1 victory over neighbours Korea and sealed a 13th place finish in the competition. Kota Watanabe scored in the 55th minute to give Japan the lead, but Korea restored parity thanks to Oh Seyong, who showed quick reflexes to volley home a shot that hit the frame of the Japanese goal. Yamasaki’s goal arrived from a penalty corner, deflecting in from five metres out to push the Koreans into a 14th place finish.
Egypt defeated Canada 2-1 to end their campaign here in 15th position. Rohan Chopra gave Canada the lead at the end of the first half from a penalty corner rebound before Mohamed Gadelkarim’s penalty corner drag-flick levelled the scores with 12 minutes remaining. Ahmed Elganaini hit the winner three minutes from the end of the match, cracking a fierce backhand effort into the top right corner to seal victory for the African champions.