Johor Bahru (Malaysia), Nov 2: The Indian Junior Men's Hockey Team is set to compete against World Number 2 Germany in the semi-finals of the 11th Sultan of Johor Cup 2023, on Friday. The defending Champions, India, have displayed remarkable resilience throughout the tournament and are yet to be defeated.
In their first game against their neighbouring rivals, Pakistan, India managed to secure a thrilling 3-3 draw. Speaking about the match, India captain Uttam said that it has put the team in good stead for the rest of the competition.
“With five minutes left in the opening game, we were trailing by 3-2 and we made up our minds to give it our all in the last few minutes and go one-on-one with the defenders in the circle and try to capitalise on the slightest of opportunities. Our efforts finally paid off in the end and we rescued a point from the game,” Uttam Singh shed light on the game plan in the match against Pakistan.
“This result put the team in good stead, particularly in terms of our confidence,” he added.
Since then, the Indian Colts beat Malaysia by 3-1 and New Zealand by 6-2 to finish as table toppers in Pool B and set up a Semi-Final clash with Germany. The last time they faced Germany was in the 4 Nations Tournament U21 Men in August, where they lost both their matches by a margin of 6-1 and 3-2.
“Germany are ranked second in the world and we are third but the difference between the teams isn’t much and the team that performs the best on the day will qualify for the Final. It will be a challenging Semi-Final for sure, but we will approach the game with a positive mindset and aim to play to our strengths. Ahead of the game, we have been working on shoring up our defence while also looking at ways to beat their full press,” the Captain elaborated on the preparations and expectations in the build-up to the Semi-Final.
Germany is one of the teams that will participate in the upcoming FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2023 as well and the India are determined to beat the European hockey juggernaut in their quest to defend the Sultan of Johor Cup title. “Beating Germany here will be a big morale boost for us in our preparations for the upcoming Junior World Cup. We have enjoyed great support here in Malaysia with Indian hockey fans turning up for our matches, we request them to continue this support in our campaign,” Uttam signed off. (IANS)