Indian junior men’s hockey team were defeated comprehensively against Spain 4-1 in their second group game in the 2023 FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday.
Rohit scored the only goal for India in the 33rd minute while Pol Cabre Verdiell (1’ and 41’) and captain Andreas Rafi (18’,60’) scored braces to guide Spain to a emphatic 4-1 victory.
Spain started dominating proceedings right from the outset as they forced India to be on the back foot. Courtesy of their incessant attacks, Spain took the lead in the first minute to set the tone of the game.
India tried releasing the pressure with their timely counterattacks but the Spanish defense stood tall on most occasions. Spain were cautious in their pursuit after taking the lead as they worked a disciplined structure and played short passes, conserving possession.
In the second quarter, Rafi helped Spain double the lead in the 18th minute. The two-goal lead meant that Spain were in a formidable position. It allowed them to play different combinations.
The third quarter saw India pushing for the goal which made the quarter very exciting. Both teams stepped up their intensity in attack as India secured a penalty corner. However, Rohit’s shot was blocked by the Spanish defence.
Ultimately, India pulled one back in the 33rd minute when India earned another penalty corner and this time Rohit made the most of this opportunity. But with four minutes remaining in the quarter, Verdiell scored from a penalty corner in the 41st minute.
India showcased urgency in the final quarter as captain Uttam Singh found a space in the circle but the Spanish goalkeeper pulled off a sensational save. Eventually, Spain earned a penalty stroke and Rafi completed his brace in the 60th minute of the game.
India will take on Canada in the next group game of the 2023 FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup. The youngsters started the tournament well by defeating South Korea as Araijeet slammed a fine hat-trick. They will look to forget this defeat against Spain and start afresh against Canada in the next game.