If there was any proof required that France could be worldwide hockey’s big story of this 10 years, somewhat like Belgium did in the ten years that went by, it arrived on a breezy Wednesday night time in Bhubaneswar. By no means intellect that it arrived at India’s price tag.
In December 2011, a youthful Belgium group defeated India for the 1st time, a result that introduced their arrival on the earth phase. France’s gorgeous 5-4 gain about India in the opening match of their Pool B encounter of the Junior Planet Cup may well not seem to be like a comparable watershed second ideal now. But it factors to the European side’s continual improvement, to the place that they will no more time be deemed minnows going forward.
France’s upswing commenced at the same venue at the 2018 Environment Cup, wherever a ragtag bunch of players attained the quarterfinals. Timothee Clement, the youngest player of that crew, was one of their heroes back again then. Clement, the oldest participant on this side, was their hero on Wednesday as nicely. The 21-calendar year-old put up a heroic performance, scoring a hat-trick and creating critical clearances, like an unbelievable purpose-line help you save, to guide his facet to this well-known win.
But extra than the result, it was the way France went about it that was extra extraordinary. And Graham Reid experienced seen it coming.
An end-to-finish come upon at Bhubaneswar finished in France’s favour, but not just before India confirmed wonderful fighting spirit.
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) November 24, 2021
France, he had gathered from the constrained footage that was accessible, performed ‘like a European team’ – held the ball, moved promptly and attacked from the correct. The India mentor could not have been additional accurate in reading his opponent’s recreation prepare. But, the crew could not cease them from executing it.
To be honest to Reid, he’s only been with this aspect for a thirty day period or so. India’s junior group experienced been coached by BJ Kariappa for the final few of yrs immediately after Jude Felix still left. Then, as they did just just before the 2016 Junior Globe Cup in which Roelant Oltmans was specified the demand of a group that was coached by Harendra Singh, Reid was asked to take above the team this time, with Kariappa as his assistant.
Reid experienced been knowledge sufficient to not tinker a whole lot although he admitted just before the tournament that he didn’t genuinely know a good deal about the players, or the way they played. In reality, really number of understood.
Confined enjoying time
Prior to Wednesday, India’s junior workforce hadn’t had a competitive intercontinental match for nearly two yrs. And for the very last 12 months or so, they had pretty much grow to be a simulation machine for the Tokyo-sure workforce. To enable get ready the seniors, who way too have been starved of aggressive matches, for the Olympics, the underneath-21s ended up manufactured to engage in like India’s opponents – Germany one day, Belgium the other and so on.
Reid didn’t feel the simulation impacted their taking part in design – “they have been nonetheless hoping to enjoy their personal recreation,” he stated. But juniors lacked co-ordination and manufactured several uncharacteristic mistakes. Probably, they ended up just rusty for the reason that of the absence of match practice.
There had been mis-traps galore and the extensive balls ended up not managed. Compared with the senior crew, exactly where a player retains the ball for a few to five seconds at most effective just before passing, the colts embarked on prolonged, at situations aimless, runs that spoiled the team’s construction.
The #JWC2021 kicked off to a fantastic start off with goals aplenty and some wonderful hockey skills on display.
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) November 24, 2021
France were shrewd to take benefit of India’s problems. But they didn’t depend only on that. From the extremely 1st moment, France took issues into their individual hands, launching wave soon after wave of attacks and being breathtakingly robust on the ball – relocating it immediately to the appropriate, slicing open India’s defence and raiding the objective. They were speedy off the blocks in every single quarter and produced that depend – their plans coming times soon after restart every single time.
This acquire puts them in pole placement to top the group and get a favourable draw for the quarterfinals.
For India, there is continue to ample time to switch this close to. Even with the loss, it was not all doom-and-gloom. There were a handful of bright spots.
Not all gloomy
Penalty corner expert Sanjay confirmed why he is tipped to choose the place vacated by Rupinderpal Singh in the senior aspect. He created lots of tempo in his drag-flicks and was in a position to locate corners, creating it tricky for the goalkeeper to get in close proximity to the ball. His hat-trick (15’, 57’, 58’) held India alive in the match until finally the previous moment.
The functionality of the ahead line, much too, will inspire Reid. Araijeet Singh Hundal, Sudeep Chirmako and Maninder Singh opened up the French defence pretty conveniently, and repeatedly. Hundal was extraordinary in particular with his lengthy strides and probing runs but India lacked the sharpness. A couple of shots strike the submit and a person went throughout, which still left the staff ruing.
And lest it be neglected that even at the Tokyo Olympics, India scripted a turnaround following dropping 7-1 to Australia early in their campaign. If nearly anything, the defeat to France complicates India’s title defence. At the exact time, it asserts France’s position as planet hockey’s upcoming massive issue.