Sanjay Kumar, Araijeet Singh Hundal and Sudeep Chirmako scored a brace each as defending champions India trounced Poland 8-2 to qualify for the quarterfinals of the FIH Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Pakistan kept their hopes of a place in the last eight alive with a win against Egypt. The Pakistan team must now defeat Argentina if they are to finish in the top two in Pool D. France continued their fine form making it three wins from three matches with a convincing victory over Canada. South African hearts were broken when Malaysia snatched the win with just three minutes left on the clock. Belgium sealed top spot in Pool A, meaning they will meet India in the next round.

After scoring hat-tricks in the first two games, vice captain Sanjay (4th, 58th) continued his goal-scoring spree for India while Hundal (8th, 60th), who scored a hat-trick against Canada, too registered his name on the scoresheet twice. Chirmako (24th, 40th) also contributed in team’s win while Uttam Singh (34th) and Shardanand Tiwari (38th) were the other goal scorers for the hosts in the Pool B game.

Poland scored both their goals in the fourth and final quarter through Wojciech Rutkowski (50th) and Robert Pawlak (54th).

India will now Belgium in the quarterfinal on December 1 in a repeat of the 2016 final.

Belgium topped Pool A ahead of Malaysia on goal difference after both the finished on seven points each.

After a shock 4-5 defeat against France in their tournament opener, India defeated Canada 13-1 in their second pool match to stay alive in the competition. Up against Poland in a must-not-lose final pool match, the Indians started from where they left against Canada on Thursday and put pressure on the Polish goal from the onset.

Their efforts bore fruit as early as in the fourth minute of the match when Sanjay scored his seventh goal of the tournament, yet again from a penalty corner. The Indians stayed aggressive and four minutes later doubled their lead through another penalty corner, this time from the stick of Hundal.

Sudeep tripled India’s lead in the 24th minute through a fine field goal to go into the half time leading 3-0. Four minutes into the third quarter, Uttam extended India’s lead with another field goal before Tiwari converted a penalty corner in the 38th minute to make it 5-0 in India’s favour.

Sudeep once again found himself in thick of things, scoring another field goal in the 40th minute.

Despite trailing 0-6, Poland came all out attacking in the final quarter. They earned a barrage of penalty corners and in the process found the net twice to reduce the margin.

But India finished on a strong note when Sanjay and Hundal scored from field play to register an emphatic win for the hosts. India’s concern would be the number of cards the players received as indiscipline could prove costlier against a team of Belgium’s quality.

Pakistan 3-1 Egypt (Pool D)

Three goals for Ali Rizwan kept Pakistan’s hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals alive as they beat Egypt 3-1 in the opening match of the day. The penalty corner specialist hit his stride in the 19th minute and then fired in two more in the third and fourth quarter to give Pakistan their first win of the competition. Egypt rallied with a fine goal from Hussein Awad, but the Asian team pressed on to take the all-important points.

With Germany already qualified from Pool D, Pakistan now face a must-win final match against Argentina, with both teams needing a win to qualify for the final eight.

Pakistan’s Moin Shakeel, who was Player of the Match, was quick to point out the benefits of a good penalty corner routine. “Our coaches had asked us to take the short corners and we have the plus point in the short corners. We did it in the second half, so we got opportunities and we scored the goals. Now we are focusing on our next game, targeting that we have to win it to qualify for the quarter finals. This is our opportunity to get goal scoring and get the ball possession. We will play like this again against Argentina.”

“I’m very proud of my teammates, said a reflective Mahmoud Seleem of Egypt. “They tried their best. They fought well. Today we were in better spirits. We tried to do efforts as a team, as one unit, and that showed a different story from two days ago.”

France 11-1 Canada (Pool D)

France continued their impressive progress through the competition with a convincing win over Canada. The French, under the guidance of Head Coach Aymeric Bergamo, have been nothing short of sublime as they have won three from three to secure a place in the quarter-finals. In this performance, they took the game to Canada, playing a high tempo game which only slipped slightly in the third quarter, when Canada were able to pounce on some sloppy play to score through Sean Davis.

Speaking after the match, Player of the Match Antonin Igau said: “We played very well throughout the pool stage. So, we are very happy. Clinching the top spot of the pool is really hard, especially with India in the same pool. We’re very proud of this performance. Winning against India is always amazing, and even more so in India. So, for sure, this has given us confidence for the rest of the tournament.”

For Canada, coming to terms with three losses is tough but Christopher Tardif was philosophical about the result: “Looking at our pool stage matches, I think we did some good things but also some bad things. Our best performance is yet to come. Not a lot of our guys have international experience so there is so much that we’ve learnt such as the speed of the game, the fitness component, just much more. So, when we go back, we’ll become better hockey players and can play at the international level.”

South Africa 3-4 Malaysia (Pool A)

Malaysia secured a place in the last eight after a nail-biting encounter with South Africa. Malaysia took the lead in the 29th minute through Muhammad Khalid only to see South Africa bounce back just after half-time through captain Guy Morgan. The Asian side took the lead again in the 41st minute only to see two quick goals from Jared Campbell give the lead to the African contenders. Three yellow cards in the final quarter indicate the fiercely competitive nature of this game. Eventually, hero of the day for Malaysia was captain Akhimullah Anuar who put away a penalty corner to snatch the lead and put his team into the quarter-finals.

Player of the match was Malaysia’s Kamarulzaman Kamaruddin. He said: “I’m very happy. My teammates and my coaches gave 100 per cent and give the spirit of the team. We fought all together. We fought for every ball, for everything in this match and so we managed to win.

South Africa’s captain, Guy Morgan, said: “First, congratulations to Malaysia. But I think we let ourselves down today, especially with cards at the end. We had so many opportunities. We controlled the majority of the game. That’s fairly frustrating.”

Belgium 3-0 Chile (Pool A)

Belgium came into this match determined to seal a first place finish in Pool A and Lucas Putters answered that particular demand with a well taken goal in the third minute. Player of the Match Thibeau Stockbroekx doubled the lead just before half-time and Nelson Onana sealed it with a third in the 48th minute.

The result means that Belgium finish top of Pool A, ahead of Malaysia on goal difference and will meet India in the quarter-finals.

Reflecting on both today’s game and the next challenge, Belgium’s Thibeau Stockbroekx said: “We came here for the first spot in the pool. It was difficult but I think we did the right things. Today was a hard game for us. Yesterday also. Really good defending from our opponents, so it’s difficult to score goals but we did manage. It’s always nice to play India here. I think it will be a really good opportunity for us to show our best level and see where we’re at.”

The result means Chile finished in fourth place in Pool A and will meet Poland in their classification match. Nicolás Abujatum said his side were learning with every match: “I think we have had a pretty good evolution during the tournament. At the start we had to get into the rhythm, but I think we ended up playing a very good match against Belgium. We have to keep working on where we are failing, namely the short corners.

“We haven’t accomplished our first goal which was to be in the top eight but we will keep on trying, set ourselves a new goal and finish as high as possible. It was a very good match to prepare for what is coming.”

With PTI and FIH Inputs