India will face its biggest challenge yet at the Hockey Junior Women’s World Cup, when they face a strong Netherlands outfit in the semi-final on Sunday.
Both teams were pre-tournament favourites to win the title, and both have reached this stage of the tournament with a winning record.
The Indians started their campaign with a 5-1 win over Wales in their opening group game, and followed it up with a 2-1 win over Germany a day later. The finished a clean sweep to top Pool D with a 4-0 win over Malaysia. In the quarterfinal, they didn’t need to shift to a higher gear at all in their 3-0 beating of South Korea, but will have to work much harder against a high-scoring Dutch outfit.
The European giants started their campaign in the group stage with a 9-0 win over the United States and only got better since then. They scored 11 against Canada, and set a new World Cup record by registering an 18-0 win over Zimbabwe to top their group.
In their quarterfinal, they came up with a 5-0 win over South Africa. That scoreline could have been different had the impressive hosts done better with the excellent chances they created in front of goal – only their finishing was lacking.
Netherlands does have the two highest scorers of this tournament with Dicke Jip leading the charts with 12 goals, followed by Fokke Luna on 10. India’s Mumtaz Khan is third with six goals.
The winner of this match moves to the final and will face the winner of the match between Germany and England. For India, arguably, getting past the Dutch will be a much tougher proposition.
And the team from the subcontinent will be hoping to go one better than their previous best finish at this tournament when India won bronze at the 2013 edition. The Netherlands though are the most successful team at this event, winning the title three times.
The match starts at 1700 hrs IST on Sunday, April 10. It can be live streamed on watch.hockey (subscription required) or Fancode.
India’s road to the final
India 5-1 Wales
India 2-1 Germany
India 4-0 Malaysia
India 3-0 South Korea
Netherlands’ road to the final
Netherlands 9-0 United States
Netherlands 11-0 Canada
Netherlands 18-0 Zimbabwe
Netherlands 5-0 South Africa