India defeated Malaysia 4-2 in Under 21 Johor Cup on Thursday. The Indian team, defending champions of this tournament, played 4 matches winning 3 and lost 1. The team is in 2nd place with 9 points and a win against Australia will seal its place in the final with Great Britain who won all their matches so far.
The match began off to good start for the Malaysians as they got a penalty corner in the 13th minute but was saved well by India goalkeeper Abhinav Pandey. In the very next minute India got a penalty corner of their own but that too was saved by the Malaysian goalkeeper through a rebound shot. The Indians pressed and got the reward by getting another penalty corner but that shot was saved but they got 2 more penalty corners subsequently.
Harmanpreet Singh scored the first goal through a penalty corner for India in the 31st minute, converted another penalty corner to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.
In the second half, the Malaysians scored back 2 goals and leveled up at 2-2. India scored the 3rd goal which gave the team lead. The goal scorer was Harmanpreet Singh. He was instrumental in winning this match and scored a hat-trick of goals. The 4th goal of match came through Varun Kumar who scored in 65th minute by a penalty stroke.
The Indian team has performed well in the tournament so far winning against New Zealand 2-1, losing against Great Britain 2-0, trashing Pakistan 6-0 and beating Malaysia 4-2. This is 4th Sultan Johor baru cup. This tournament provides an opportunity for the youngsters to show their talent and skills to the world. The likes of Ramandeep came from this type of tournament and are now a member of Indian hockey squad.
I think India can win this tournament. The penalty corner conversion of India has been the best among all the teams. The Indian team are young and are eager to do well at this stage. Hope that India can produce more good players which stake a claim in the Indian senior team in coming future. The coaches are playing an important role.