Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Indian Junior Men’s Team’s consistent overall performance in 2019 has raised hopes of it providing a strong bench strength to the senior squad in coming ytears.
Although the juniors opened the season with a disappointing outing at the 8 Nations Tournament in Spain, the team produced strong results at the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia where they remained unbeaten against Malaysia (4-2), New Zealand (8-2), Australia (5-1), and drew against Great Britain (3-3) but lost to Japan (3-4).
In the Final, however, they but put a strong fight against nemesis Great Britain but lost narrowly (1-2) to bag a Silver medal. Despite the loss, there were plenty of positives that came out of the tournament. “We were consistent through the tournament and we saw good improvement in the overall PC conversion rate,” expressed Coach BJ Kariappa.
He further highlighted that the structure of the team, improved fitness, temperament and consistency are the positives the team would like to carry forward to the year 2020 where the India Colts will be vying to qualify for the 2021 FIH Junior World Cup.
“Next year will definitely be important for the Junior Men’s Team. The core group of this team is strong and they have played together for nearly two years so each of them understand their strengths and weak points. Their overall fitness has also improved a lot and I am sure this team will continue to build on their performance and do well in the Junior Asia Cup which will be a priority for 2020,” added Coach Kariappa.
He was of the view that with India playing the FIH Pro League in 2020, he expects some of the India Junior Players to make the cut for the Senior Core Group.
“Every year we see some of the junior players graduate to the Senior Core Group. In 2019, we saw players like Sanjay (defender) show consistent performance. Mandeep Mor was effective with his penalty corners too while it was good to see Dilpreet Singh (forward) return to action and played a composed game,” Kariappa added.