From 2 to 11 June 2023, the best young Asian women’s hockey teams went head-to-head in the Women’s Junior Asia Cup Kakamigahara 2023, competing for the gold medal and the final three spots up for grabs in the upcoming FIH Junior Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023, to be played in Santiago, Chile.
India and Korea were the dominant teams in the Pool A winning three matches comprehensively, and played out an entertaining draw in their head-to-head matchup, as both teams earned qualification for the semi-finals, with India topping the group thanks to their superior goal difference. In Pool B, it was China on top, winning all four of their pool matches, and hosts Japan finished second with three wins and a solitary loss, which came against China.
The semi-finals were tightly contested affairs as India and Korea edged past their Pool B opponents. India claimed a 1-0 win over Japan with Sunelita Toppo scoring the only goal of the game in the final quarter. Korea scored twice in the first half and tightened the defence in the second half to win 2-0 against China.
The finals saw India take on Korea, with a draw no longer an option! A cagey and close encounter was edged by India who took the lead through a penalty stroke in the second quarter but Korea struck back inside two minutes to keep the scores level at the half. India scored their second goal of the game through Neelam and this would prove to be the winning goal as the Indian defence shut down all Korean attacks in the second half. Japan won the bronze medal match against China by a 2-1 margin. With the results India, Korea and Japan have qualified for the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup 2023.
Indian forward Annu, who scored the opening goal in the final, finished the tournament as the top goalscorer with 9 goals.
Janneke Schopman, coach of the Indian team, speaking on her team’s performance said: “So thrilled for the girls to get this win in the Junior Asia Cup. For a lot of them this was their first exposure to international hockey and to win tight matches in the semi-finals and now in the finals, means a lot and I am very proud of them.”
With the Junior Asia Cup 2023 tournament concluded, all 16 teams competing in the upcoming FIH Junior Hockey World Cups are now set!
India, Korea and Japan have successfully qualified to participate in the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup 2023, which will be played in Santiago, Chile from 29 November to 10th December 2023.