The Indian men’s junior team lost 6-3 to world No 2 Germany in the semi-final of the 2023 Sultan of Johor Cup.
Germany’s Christian Franz (16’), Nikas Berendts (29’, 45’), Peer Hinrichs (43’,48’), and Sperling Florian (49’) found the back of the net while Amandeep Lakra (35’), Uttam Singh (58’) and Rohit (60’) scored for India.
Defending champions India started on the frontfoot, threatening Joshua Onyekwue Nnaji’s goal on a couple of occasions in the opening minutes. However, Germany registered the game’s first shot on target as Ben Hasbach’s snapshot was deflected out by India’s goalkeeper Mohith H.S.
A period of German dominance followed as they pinned India in their own half in search for the opening goal and it was German captain Matteo Poljaric who looked to test Mohith, whose vigilance ensured the first quarter ended goalless.
Franz scored in the very first minute of the second quarter, flashing a shot past the Indian goalkeeper after a string of passes in the circle. India seldom found opportunities to test Nnaji in goal as Germany continued to pile on the pressure the rest of the quarter. As the first half was winding up, it was Berendts’ flick from a penalty corner that breached India’s goal for the second time in the match.
India found their footing in the third quarter, forcing a series of penalty corners and it was Lakra’s flick at goal that found the back of the net and reduced India’s deficit. But the respite was short lived as Hinrichs netted the ball in after a goal mouth melee to extend Germany’s lead. This was quickly followed by another goal by Berendts towards the end of the quarter.
The German attacking prowess continued in the last quarter with Hinrichs doubling his goal tally after a thunderous flick from a penalty corner. Soon after, Florian chipped the ball over Mohith from close range to make it 6-1 in Germany’s favour.
As the intensity of the game dropped, India captain Uttam Singh deflected a long cross to score India’s second goal, while Rohit scored from a penalty corner in the very last minute of the game. However, despite India’s valiant efforts went in vain as they lost the match 3-6.
India will face the losers of the match between Australia and Pakistan at 3.35pm IST on 4th November 2023.