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India outclass maiden finalists Belgium 2-1 to clinch their second Hockey Junior World Cup title after a 15-year-Gap

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(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Lucknow, Dec 18, 2016: Home favourites India produced a clinical performance here on Sunday to outclass maiden finalists Belgium 2-1 and clinch their second Hockey Junior World Cup title after a 15-year-gap.

Gurjant Singh (eighth minute) and Simranjeet Singh (22nd) scored the two goals for India, who had won their previous Under-21 world title in 2001 in Hobart, Australia.

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Belgium scored the reducer at the death via Fabrice van Bockrijck at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium here. The goal didn’t matter much for India as it was the final action of the match.

With this win, India became only the second nation after Germany to win the Under-21 title more than once. Germany, who overpowered Australia 3-0 to secure the third spot on the podium, have won six titles.

With both the teams coming into the match unbeaten, the contest was expected to be an enticing competition between two bands of talented youngsters.

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And it were the hosts who looked to be the better side from the very beginning. Urged on by a vociferous crowd in Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, India got off to an emphatic start.

Varun Kumar’s long aerial ball in the Belgian circle forced Belgian goalkeeper Loic van Doren to come out but he couldn’t fully palm the ball away with Gurjant lurking near him. The Indian took the ball to the left, dodging past van Doren before employing a ripping back-hand strike from a very tight angle that hit the top corner of the far post, giving the hosts the early advantage.

India’s midfield, led by Harjeet Singh, did a fine job of restricting and breaking the flow of the Belgian game.

One such fine example turned into the second goal for India as link-man Santa Singh caught short an opposition counter-attack few metres ahead of the half-line before making a cross-field pass to his left. Nilakanta Sharma fed Simranjeet at the top of the circle and the latter delivered a clinical finish, giving no chance to van Doren, to make it 2-0.

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Towards the end of the first half, Belgium had their moments but couldn’t make their chances count as India defended as a team. The Belgians even earned a penalty corner but they couldn’t trouble Indian custodian Vikas Dahiya.

Trailing 0-2, Belgium tried their best to turn things around in the second half but India’s superiority in one-on-one duels helped them keep things under control and hold their 2-0 lead.

Moreover, India’s balancing act in defending the two-goal advantage and pushing for the third goal was just perfect and captain Harjeet deserved all the credit for controlling the tempo of the game.

Gurjant had the chance to make it 3-0 when he won a battle with Martin Lambeau just five metres ahead of the Belgian circle. Gurjant faced a one-on-one situation against goalkeeper van Doren but the latter managed to keep the Indian at bay.

Later, India got two penalty corners to put an end to Belgium’s challenge in the match but penalty corner exponents Varun Kumar and Harmanpreet Singh couldn’t make them count.

Belgium, in their pursuit of pulling one back, kept fighting and eventually it came, with barely 22 seconds left on the clock. With the hooter already being blown, the penalty corner was the last shot of the game and van Bockrijck was successful in his job. But they couldn’t celebrate the goal, as the match ended, triggering huge celebrations in the Indian camp.

After the win, a delighted India captain Harjeet said that their success boils down to their long and arduous preparation they did for the last couple of years.

“It is a great victory and we deserved it. We had been preparing for the tournament very dedicatedly since the last couple of years. We have improved a lot tournament-by-tournament,” centre-half Harjeet said after the match.

“We stuck together as a group despite the difficulties and it has helped us. We played good hockey throughout the tournament and we got good support from the Lucknow crowd who supported us in good numbers here,” the senior Indian international added.

Meanwhile, in the bronze medal match, Timm Herzbruch inspired Germany to a 3-0 victory over Australia, with the 19-year-old attacker scoring twice for his side. Argentina were the winners of the 5/6 Place play-off, recording a 2-1 victory over Spain.

The Netherlands were comfortable winners of the 7/8 Place play-off contest, defeating England 6-2.

In the formal individual awards ceremony, Spain’s exceptional captain Enrique Gonzalez de Castijon was named as the Uttar Pradesh Best Player of the Tournament, while brilliant Belgian shot-stopper van Doren was given the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award.

Edward Horler of England took the HERO Top Scorer of the Tournament award thanks to an eight-goal haul. (IANS)

Next Story

India to Set Up “Border Haats” with Myanmar

The Minister said, The success of the "Border Haats" running along the Bangladesh border in Meghalaya and Tripura has prompted us to go for similar 'haats'

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India, Border Haats, Myanmar
To carry out border trade with Myanmar, the location for the construction of 'Border Haat' has been identified in four places -- Hnahlan, Zote, Vaphai (Saikhumphai) and Sangau (Pangkhua) in southeastern Mizoram. Pixabay

The success of the “Border Haats” with Bangladesh has prompted other northeastern states of India to go for similar arrangements with Myanmar. At the instance of the Mizoram government, the Centre is likely to set up four “Border Haats” (market) along the border with Myanmar to boost local trade and livelihood of the people living there.

“To carry out border trade with Myanmar, the location for the construction of ‘Border Haat’ has been identified in four places — Hnahlan, Zote, Vaphai (Saikhumphai) and Sangau (Pangkhua) in southeastern Mizoram,” Mizoram Commerce and Industries Minister R. Lalthangliana told IANS.

The Minister said, “The success of the “Border Haats” running along the Bangladesh border in Meghalaya and Tripura has prompted us to go for similar ‘haats’ with Mynmar in Mizoram.”

Mizoram Commerce and Industries Department Director J. Hmingthanmawia said that the state government has sent the detailed proposals in this regard to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for its approval.

India, Border Haats, Myanmar
The success of the “Border Haats” with Bangladesh has prompted other northeastern states of India to go for similar arrangements with Myanmar. Pixabay

“Once we get the green signal from the MEA, we would seek funds from the Union Industries and Commerce Ministry,” Hmingthanmawia told IANS. He said that officials of the Mizoram government and Myanmar have recently conducted a joint survey and identified the locations to set up the “Border Haats”.

Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga in his Independence Day speech had said that the proposed “Border Haats” would become important trade points between India and Myanmar.

“Land Custom Station (LCS) at Zokhawthar, the lone trade route for Mizoram with South East Asian countries, is being proposed for upgradation. Construction of Trade Facilitation Centre at Tlabung has already been completed.”

“The Indian government has also proposed construction of an Integrated Check Post (ICP) at four places at the border in Mizoram — Marpara, Tuipuibari, Silsuri and Nunsury. The construction of ICP at Kawrpuichhuah is also expected to commence shortly,” the Chief Minister added.

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Mizoram has an unfenced international border of 404 km with Myanmar and 318 km with Bangladesh. The Border Security Force (BSF) has been guarding the Bangladesh border and Assam Rifles personnel are posted on the border with Myanmar.

Experts and various studies suggest that if the “Border Haats” are set up, smuggling of drugs and other commodities would be checked to a large extent. Security expert Manas Paul said that large-scale smuggling of drugs from Myanmar via Mizoram and other neighbouring states has increased in the last few years.

“What is really worrisome is the fact that these synthetic drugs have got a domestic market inside the state, especially among the younger generation. Cross border legal activities including setting up of “Border Haats” could curb the smuggling of drugs and other contraband,” Paul, who has authored books on security and terrorism in the northeast, told IANS.

The CUTS International, a Jaipur based international NGO, with support from the World Bank, had conducted a study in 2016 to understand and examine the effect of “Border Haats” on poverty alleviation and other multiplier effects such as informal trade.

India, Border Haats, Myanmar
At the instance of the Mizoram government, the Centre is likely to set up four “Border Haats” (market) along the border with Myanmar to boost local trade and livelihood of the people living there. Pixabay

CUTS International Executive Director Bipul Chatterjee said that trade will increase income, curb smuggling, and cross-border crimes will also go down.

“‘Border Haats’ have contributed to the border area development, roads have improved, trafficking of women has stopped, unemployment issues have been addressed,” said Chatterjee.

Currently four “Border Haats” are operational in Meghalaya and Tripura. The first “Border Haat” was started on July 23, 2011 at Kalaichar (India)-Kurigram (Bangladesh) in the West Garo Hills of Meghalaya. Three other “haats” followed in Meghalaya and Tripura.

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The Union Industries and Commerce Ministry has been spending on an average Rs 3.5 crore to develop the infrastructure and necessary facilities for each “Border Haat” along the Bangladesh border. The Bangladesh government is not providing any funds for the purpose.  (IANS)