Johor Bahru (Malaysia), Oct 18 (IANS) India failed to defend their title in the 5th Sultan of Johor Cup junior hockey tournament on Sunday going down 3-4 via penalty shoot-out in the final at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here.
England’s Luke Taylor’s penalty corner conversion in the fifth minute was negated by a Harmanpreet Singh’s drag-flick in the 12th minute. Gurjant Singh’s field goal in the 42nd minute was followed up with a goal from Jack Turner — both teams were tied 2-2 in regular time. The resultant penalty shoot-out saw Britain prevailing 4-3.
Britain, who earlier defeated two-time defending champions India 4-3 in the league match, began on a confident note, drawing the first blood in the fifth minute through a penalty corner goal by Taylor. The Britain team seemed to be in control of their game until India were rewarded with a penalty corner in the 12th minute, which was beautifully converted by Harmanpreet to bring India at par. The next 23 minutes in the first half saw a lot of attacks and counter-attacks but neither of the teams could capitalise on their form to find the back of the net.
The second half began with India pressing hard to take the lead and they were soon rewarded in the 42nd minute with Gurjant pulling off an absolute stunner, giving India the much needed lead in the game. Britain however struck back four minutes later through Turner to settle the score at 2-2. The next 24 minutes saw numerous attempts to score from both the teams, but the efficient goal keepers and strong defence units ensured the match entered the penalty shoot-out.
“It’s hard to miss out on the title from somewhere as close as this, but it’s a game and this defeat today will only help us learn from our mistakes for the future. I am completely satisfied with the boys performance and I couldn’t have asked for more from them,” India chief coach Harendra Singh said in a release. “Penalty shoot-outs are always unpredictable and it’s unfortunate that we could not finish it on a winning note. I would like to congratulate Britain on being crowned the new champions.”