The hosts failed to start the tournament on a positive note.

The opening day of the FIH Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021 featured five pulsating games, with Belgium, Germany, Poland and Malaysia all claiming important wins before France stole the headlines with a sensational triumph over hosts and reigning world champions India. 

A top-notch performance from France captain Timothée Clément gave his team a sensational 5-4 victory over title holders and hosts India, edging a nine-goal thriller. Clément and Benjamin Marque established a 2-0 lead inside the opening seven minutes, with India restoring parity through Uttam Singh and Sanjay before the end of a pulsating first quarter.

Penalty corner goals on either side of halftime earned Clément a hat-trick and took the score to 4-2 before he produced a stunning stick save on his own goal-line from an India penalty corner. Corentin Sellier’s composed finish moved France closer to victory with 12 minutes to go before Sanjay’s second and third strikes of the match set up a dramatic finish. However, France held on to secure a famous win over India on home soil, giving coach Aymeric Bergamo a dream start to the Junior Hockey World Cup campaign.  

India face a disappointing defeat

“We won as a team, not as a single person, we won together. It is incredible, and I am very happy for the team. To start the competition [in this way] is perfect. It’s important that we continue and win the other games because the competition is very long. It is not finished,” said Clément – who represented France men at the 2018 Men’s World Cup in Bhubaneswar – after the game.

Big wins for Belgium and Germany

Belgium, 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup silver medallists, made the perfect start to their competition by claiming a 5-1 victory over South Africa. Roman Duvekot put Belgium into the lead seven minutes into the contest from a penalty corner, but South Africa hit back with a PC of their own when Jaques van Tonder netted on the stroke of quarter time.

Nelson Onana restored Belgium’s lead with a second-quarter field goal before the Europeans kicked on after halftime. Duvakot, who was named Player of the Match, claimed a second goal from open play before strikes from Arnon van Dessel and Rik van Cleynenbreugel wrapped up all three points.  

Six times Junior Hockey World Cup champions Germany cruised to a 5-2 victory over Pakistan in their opening fixture, with Robert Duckscheer scoring twice to be named ‘Player of the Match’. Germany had the ball in the Pakistan net inside the opening sixty seconds when Michel Struthoff’s strike deflected into the goal via a Green Shirts stick before Duckscheer added a second field goal just before the end of the first quarter.

Pakistan hit back through Abdul Shahid early in the second quarter, but Maximilian Siegberg and Benedikt Schwarzhaupt took the score to 4-1 before Germany goalkeeper Anton Brinckman saved a penalty stroke ahead of the halftime break. Muhammad Hammadudin gave Pakistan hope when he found the net with 11 minutes left to play, but Duckscheer’s emphatic second of the match put the result beyond all doubt.

Poland and Malaysia register close victories

Poland claimed a narrow triumph over Canada in the third match of the day, giving the Europeans a wonderful platform to build on as they attempt to reach the competition quarter-finals. The only goal of the game came from the stick of Eryk Bembenek, who slapped home a penalty corner from the top of the circle in the 34th minute. It proved to be enough for the Poles to claim all three points, although Canada missed a glorious chance to get on the score-sheet through a penalty stroke just before half-time, with Roopkanwar Dhillon’s powerful flick hitting the left post rather than the back of the net. 

Two brilliant penalty corner goals in the third quarter helped Malaysia overcome a strong challenge from Pan American champions Chile, with the team from Asia emerging 2-1 winners. Both penalty corner routines were perfectly executed, with Kamarulzaman Kamaruddin smashing home the opening goal in the 34th minute before Syarman Mat’s superb, angled deflection in the 43rd minute established what proved to be an unassailable lead. Sebastian Wolansky’s fine backhand strike from a penalty corner gave Chile a glimmer of hope, but it was Malaysia who deservedly took all three points from the contest.  

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