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  • Nov
  • 25

Hockey Junior World Cup: Impressive Indian comeback not enough to take down France

Author Image Fisto Staff

Vice-captain Sanjay scored a goal hat-trick he will never forget - but it was not enough to secure a victory as Indian Colts fall to France in their opening game of the Men's FIH Junior Hockey World Cup.

Vice-captain Sanjay scored a hat-trick but it was not enough as France stunned defending champions and favourites India 5-4 in their opening Pool B match of the FIH Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha on Wednesday.

France skipper Timothee Clement (1st, 23rd and 32nd minute) scored a hat-trick of drag flicks for his side, while Benjamin Marque (7th) and Corentin Sellier (48th) were the other goal scorers for world no. 26 France. Sanjay (15th, 57th, 58th) too converted three penalty corners for India while Uttam Singh (10th) scored the other goal for the hosts.



France stunned India in the first minute of the match when the defence of the hosts was caught off guard by Clement. The Frenchmen continued to attack the Indian citadel, which resulted in a second goal through a field goal from Marque.

Down 0-2, a stunned India responded back within three minutes and pulled a goal back with a field strike from Uttam Singh after a drag flick was not cleared and the Indian capitalised on the defensive chaos. Pumped up, the defending champions kept up the pressure with a flurry of attacks but the French defence stood tall to thwart them.

India equalised at the stroke of the first quarter through a penalty corner converted by Sanjay, the first of his three.

Minutes into the second quarter, India earned their third penalty corner but Uttam Singh was way off the target. France took the lead once again in the 23rd minute when skipper Clement scored from a penalty corner.

The French continued to attack and earned a couple of penalty corners but the Indian defence stood tall. Two minutes from half time, India secured their fourth penalty corner but the French goalkeeper produced a terrific save to deny the hosts who went into the interval trailing 2-3.

Two minutes into the third quarter, France extended their lead when they got three successive penalty corners, the last of which was converted by skipper Clement to take a 4-2 lead.

In the 38th minute, India secured another penalty corner but wasted the opportunity.

In the 48th minute, France made the scoreline 5-2 in their favour when Sellier scored from a field effort.



Trailing by three goals, the Indians tried to turn the script and in the process attacked the France defence in numbers.

Sanjay scored two more goals through two more penalty corners in the 57th and 58th minutes to bring down the scoreline to 4-5 but it was too little, too late.

“We won as a team, not as a single person, we won together”, said France captain Clément - who represented France men at the 2018 Men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar - after the game. “It is incredible, and I am very happy for the team. To start the competition [in this way] is perfect. It’s important that we continue and win the other games because the competition is very long. It is not finished.”

The French registered the first big upset of the tournament on the opening day and make India’s lives harder in the group. In the other Pool B match, Poland prevailed 1-0 against Canada. India will likely have to defeat both teams to finish in the top two.

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