The Indian men’s junior hockety team progressed to the semi-finals of the Men’s Junior Asia Cup 2023, beating Thailand 17-0 in their final Pool A fixture on Sunday. Captain Uttam Singh netted two goals (24’, 31’) along with Amandeep Lakra (26’, 29’), but the star of the night was Angad Bir Singh (13’, 33’, 47’, 55’) with four goals.
The other scorers for India were Yogember Rawat (17’), Araijeet Singh Hundal (36’), Vishnukant Singh (38’), Bobby Singh Dhami (45’), Sharda Nand Tiwari (46’), Amandeep (47’), Rohit (49’), Sunit Lakra (54’) and Rajinder Singh (56’).
India also qualified for the FIH Junior Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023, which is scheduled to be held from December 5 to 16, 2023 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The top three teams from the Men’s Junior Asia Cup 2023 were set to qualify for the Junior World Cup, however with Malaysia receiving a direct entry as the host nation, the other three Semi-Finalists of the Men’s Junior Asia Cup have qualified for the prestigious event.
India began the contest on the front foot, attacking Thailand with regularity, but were unable to break through in the early exchanges. Thailand not only absorbed the pressure but also looked to attack India, who edged ahead just before the end of the first quarter when Angad Bir Singh (13’) found the back of the net.
Early in the second quarter, Uttam eased through the Thailand defense on the right before Rawat (17’) doubled the advantage. India started to take control of the contest, and before the half ended, Uttam (24’) also got on the scoresheet, scoring from close range. A couple of minutes later, Lakra (26’) smashed home his shot from a Penalty Corner, as India led 4-0, and showed no signs of slowing down. Lakra (29’) then scored his second from a Penalty Corner and at halftime India led 5-0.
Uttam (31’) made it 6-0 in the first minute of the third quarter, rifling it into the top corner from the right, and moments later Angad Bir Singh (33’) too got his second for the night. India were dominating proceedings, and added another soon after when Hundal (36’) got on the scoresheet courtesy of a powerful hit from the right. India continued to attack, pushing Thailand deep into their half, and the pressure resulted in another goal, as Vishnukant (38’) got his name on the scoresheet, making it 9-0. Just before the final break, Dhami (45’) made it 10-0 when he converted a Penalty Corner.
The final quarter saw India attacking with great gusto as Tiwari (46’), Amandeep (47’) and Angad Bir Singh (47’), all struck in quick succession to make it 13-0. Rohit (49’) got into the act as well, making it 14-0 for India. There would be more to come as India were playing free-flowing hockey, and it was Sunit (54’), Angad Bir Singh (55’), and Rajinder (56’) who added three more goals, making it 17-0. India closed the night with an emphatic win, finishing on top of the standings in Pool A.
The outcome of Monday’s match between Japan and Pakistan will determine whether India finishes top of Pool A. The semi-finals will be played on May 31.