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Hockey: India make history by reaching semis of Women’s Junior World Cup


August 1, 2013: India (pictured above) reached the semi-finals of the Women’s Ergo Hockey Junior World Cup for the first time after beating Spain 4-2 in Germany on Thursday.


Korea Republic and China, who both failed to reach the last eight, moved into the 9th-12th playoffs with 3-1 wins over Canada and Ghana respectively in Mönchengladbach.


fu08012363..m.w580.h435India have grown in confidence since their 6-1 loss to Australia on the opening day and that resilience was required as they had to come from behind twice against Spain.


An early penalty corner by Spain led to a well worked opener, with Patricia Marana passing the ball to Xantal Gine who smashed it into the bottom of the goal.


India equalised soon afterwards through Monika and dominated possession for much of the half, but failed to convert any of their scoring opportunities. Five minutes before halftime, Spain took a 2-1 lead against the run of play when captain Berta Bonastre scored from open play.


fu08012244..m.w580.h435Once again, India bounced back quickly as Navneet Kaur equalised with an outstanding reverse stick shot to make it 2-2 at halftime.


India started the second half with real fire as Ponnamma Mallamada Narendra converted a penalty corner to put them ahead for the first time. Rani made it 4-2 midway through the second half when she penetrated the circle on the right and scored from a reverse-stick strike.


Spain’s first penalty corner in the second half came in the 53rd minute, but the shot was blocked. With eight minutes remaining they won another penalty corner, but India captain Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam saved Marana’s attempt.


“Today’s key was the scoring and the team spirit,” said the captain. “We wanted to win this match so we played fast throughout the whole game. We’re very excited as we’ve never reached the semi-finals before and of course we’d love to qualify for the final.”


fu08012289..m.w580.h435Rani, who scored the fourth goal, added: “This is amazing. It is a great day for hockey in India. I knew that we would win today if we kept up the pressure.”


India coach Neil Hangood was proud of his charges. “The girls were a bit nervous at the beginning, but they showed character and continued to work for 70 minutes,” he said.


“The success has come from all the big losses as we have been beaten by the top teams in the world in World League Round 3. Now, this senior experience helps the girls here at the Junior World Cup.”


Jorge Donoso Bailon, Spanish coach, was full of praise for the South Asian side. “India are a great team,” he said. “They were really fast with their dangerous counter-attacks.”


fu08012158..m.w580.h435Korea (pictured right), who won the event in 2001 and 2005, led Canada by a solitary goal at half-time through leading scorer, Kim Hyun-ji. Canada bounced back after the break and equalised when Stephanie Norlander put the ball past substitute goalkeeper Han Mi-jin, but Korea prevailed through late strikes from Cho Hye-jin and Cha Ye-sol.


China suffered a shock in the 10th minute when Gloria Darko scored Ghana’s first goal of the tournament.


However, Ghana’s joy was short-lived as Zhang Jinrong sunk the equaliser within two minutes and Ou Zixia added a second just before the break for a 2-1 halftime lead. Zhang Xindan wrapped up the game with China’s third goal in the second half.


Photos: FIH / Frank Uijlenbroek


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