Harpal Singh Bedi
Bhubaneswar: Defending champions India opened their campaign with a shock defeat as they went down to unfancied France 4-5 in their opening match of the Junior Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here this evening.
For the winner’s skipper, Timothy Clement (3), Benjamin Marque and Corentin Sellier (One each) were the goal scorers. For India, the goal scorers were Sanjay (3) and Uttam Singh (One)
Earlier in the morning Title contenders, Belgium and Germany commenced their campaigns with emphatic victories. Belgium outplayed South Africa 5-1, while Germany overwhelmed Pakistan 5-2.
The two-afternoon matches were closely fought affairs in which Poland surprised Canada 1-0 while Malaysia struggled to beat Chile 2-1
In the five matches of the day, 26 goals were scored with nine of them coming in a contest between India and France .
France surprised India with their tearaway attacks as they did not allow the hosts to settle down, Vivek Prasad led side looked disjointed and there was no coordination among the forwards while defenders looked tentative.. But for goalkeeper Prashant Chauhan, the defending champions could have lost the match by a bigger margin.
France caught Indian defence napping and was 2-0 up within seven minutes. Timothee Clement capitalised on a good attack sent the ball home with a reverse hit off a rebound after goalkeeper Prashant had made a good save.
Soon after France were 2-0 ahead after Benjamin Marque scored a superb field goal.
Indians however regrouped and drew parity in the first quarter itself, Uttam Singh scored a superb goal after a penalty corner was saved. The hosts, made it 2-2 when vice-captain Sanjay capitalized on a penalty corner
Clement scored the third goal for France in the 23rd minute (3-2) when he converted a penalty corner. The Indian forwards- Uttam Singh, Manjeet, and Yashdeep Siwach launched a number of attacks but failed to make use of them.
Clemens scored in the third quarter to make it 4-2 for France and then Corentin Sellier made it 5-2 to seal the match for the visitors.
India reduced the margin as they scored d two goals through penalty corner conversions by Sanjay but that proved too little and too late.