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FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup: India to play for bronze after semi-final loss to Netherlands

The Indian women’s hockey team lost to three-time champions the Netherlands 3-0. India will play England next for the bronze medal on Tuesday.

India lost their FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup 2022 semi-finals against three-time champions the Netherlands 3-0 at the North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa on Sunday.

The Indian women’s hockey team stayed in the match even after Tessa Beetsma (11’) gave the Dutch team an early lead but two late goals by Luna Fokke (52’) and Jip Dicke (53’) ended the resistance.

India will face England in the bronze medal match on Tuesday. The final will be played between the Netherlands and Germany on the same day.

Incidentally, India’s best finish at the Junior Women’s Hockey World Cup to date is a bronze medal win in 2013. Curiously, India lost out to the Netherlands, the eventual champions, by a similar 3-0 margin in the semi-finals of that edition in Germany as well.

Current senior pros like Rani Rampal, Deep Grace Ekka and Vandana Katariya, who were instrumental to India’s fourth-place finish at Tokyo 2020, were part of the 2013 line-up.

India started the match with purpose and threatened to unlock the Dutch defence early. Seconds in, Sangita Kumari found herself with time and space inside the Netherlands circle but her shot sailed over the bar.

Minutes later, India captain Salima Tete went on a powerful run before passing it to Mumtaz Khan, India’s top scorer in the tournament. Mumtaz’s shot seemed to have the Dutch goalkeeper beat but hit the post.

The Netherlands responded with some probing attacks of their own and Jip Dicke, the tournament’s top scorer, almost scored her 13th goal of the 2022 Hockey World Cup. After outrunning a couple of defenders, Dicke cued up her shot but eventually miscued it to let the Indian defence off the hook.

India continued pressing for the opening goal at the other end and won three penalty corners in quick succession. But the Indian drag flickers failed to make any of them count.

The missed opportunities would soon come back to haunt the Indian hockey team as Beetsma Tessa finished off a speedy passing team-move to give the Netherlands the lead in the 11th minute.

Two minutes later, Beetsma Tessa had the ball in the Indian net yet again but the Dutch celebration was cut short after the umpire overturned the goal due to a back-stick violation.

Though trailing by a goal, India didn’t abandon their pressing game in the second quarter and kept penetrating the Dutch circle. The Netherlands, meanwhile, looked to exploit the gaps left by India’s high press and kept mounting dangerous counter attacks.

Both teams, however, lacked the finesse to convert the opportunities into goals as an entertaining first half ended with the Netherlands holding a one-goal lead.

After the match resumed for the second half, the Dutch team dominated play and asked some serious questions of the Indian defence and goalkeeper Bichu Kharibam.

Bichu was particularly impressive, keeping out waves after waves of Dutch attacks.

The final quarter also followed a similar trend, with India forced to defend deep against relentless Dutch pressure in order to keep the deficit limited to a solitary goal.

The resistance, however, finally came undone as Luna Fokke and Jip Dicke scored a minute apart to give the Netherlands a comfortable 3-0 cushion.

While Fokke scored in the 52nd minute after controlling a lovely cross-field slap by Noor Omrani, Dicke diverted in Beetsma’s reverse hit for her 13th goal of the tournament.

The goals were enough to lead the Netherlands, the most successful country in the history of the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup, to their fourth straight final. The Dutch women lost to Argentina in the title decider of the last edition in 2016.

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