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Hockey’s French evolution begins | Sports activities Information,The Indian Categorical

If there was any proof wanted that France could possibly be worldwide hockey’s large story of this decade, considerably like Belgium did within the decade that glided by, it got here on a breezy Wednesday evening in Bhubaneswar. By no means thoughts that it got here at India’s value.

In December 2011, a youthful Belgium staff defeated India for the primary time, a consequence that introduced their arrival on the world stage. France’s gorgeous 5-4 win over India within the opening match of their Pool B encounter of the Junior World Cup won’t look like the same watershed second proper now. However it factors to the European facet’s fixed enchancment, to the purpose that they’ll not be thought-about minnows going ahead.

France’s upswing began on the similar venue on the 2018 World Cup, the place a ragtag bunch of gamers reached the quarterfinals. Timothee Clement, the youngest participant of that staff, was one in all their heroes again then. Clement, the oldest participant on this facet, was their hero on Wednesday as nicely. The 21-year-old put up a heroic efficiency, scoring a hat-trick and making essential clearances, together with an unbelievable goal-line save, to steer his facet to this well-known win.

However greater than the consequence, it was the way in which France went about it that was extra spectacular. And Graham Reid had seen it coming.

France, he had gathered from the restricted footage that was obtainable, performed ‘like a European staff’ – held the ball, moved rapidly and attacked from the proper. The India coach couldn’t have been extra correct in studying his opponent’s recreation plan. But, the staff couldn’t cease them from executing it.

To be honest to Reid, he’s solely been with this facet for a month or so. India’s junior staff had been coached by BJ Kariappa for the final couple of years after Jude Felix left. Then, as they did simply earlier than the 2016 Junior World Cup the place Roelant Oltmans was given the cost of a staff that was coached by Harendra Singh, Reid was requested to take over the staff this time, with Kariappa as his assistant.

Reid had been understanding sufficient to not tinker rather a lot though he admitted earlier than the event that he didn’t actually know rather a lot in regards to the gamers, or the way in which they performed. In fact, only a few knew.

Restricted taking part in time

Earlier than Wednesday, India’s junior staff hadn’t had a aggressive worldwide match for nearly two years. And for the final yr or so, they’d nearly change into a simulation machine for the Tokyo-bound staff. To assist put together the seniors, who too have been starved of aggressive matches, for the Olympics, the under-21s have been made to play like India’s opponents – Germany in the future, Belgium the opposite and so forth.

Reid didn’t imagine the simulation affected their taking part in fashion – “they have been nonetheless making an attempt to play their very own recreation,” he mentioned. However juniors lacked co-ordination and made many uncharacteristic errors. Maybe, they have been simply rusty due to the dearth of match follow.

There have been mis-traps galore and the lengthy balls weren’t managed. Not like the senior staff, the place a participant holds the ball for 3 to 5 seconds at greatest earlier than passing, the colts launched into lengthy, at occasions aimless, runs that spoiled the staff’s construction.

France have been shrewd to benefit from India’s errors. However they didn’t rely solely on that. From the very first minute, France took issues into their very own palms, launching wave after wave of assaults and being breathtakingly sturdy on the ball – shifting it rapidly to the proper, slicing open India’s defence and raiding the aim. They have been fast off the blocks in every quarter and made that depend – their objectives coming moments after restart every time.

This win places them in pole place to high the group and get a beneficial draw for the quarterfinals.

For India, there’s nonetheless sufficient time to show this round. Regardless of the loss, it wasn’t all doom-and-gloom. There have been just a few brilliant spots.

Not all gloomy

Penalty nook specialist Sanjay confirmed why he’s tipped to take the spot vacated by Rupinderpal Singh within the senior facet. He generated loads of tempo in his drag-flicks and was capable of finding corners, making it robust for the goalkeeper to get close to the ball. His hat-trick (15’, 57’, 58’) stored India alive within the match till the final minute.

The efficiency of the ahead line, too, will encourage Reid. Araijeet Singh Hundal, Sudeep Chirmako and Maninder Singh opened up the French defence fairly simply, and repeatedly. Hundal was spectacular specifically along with his lengthy strides and probing runs however India lacked the sharpness. A few photographs hit the put up and one went throughout, which left the staff ruing.

And lest it’s forgotten that even on the Tokyo Olympics, India scripted a turnaround after dropping 7-1 to Australia early of their marketing campaign. If something, the defeat to France complicates India’s title defence. On the similar time, it asserts France’s standing as world hockey’s subsequent large factor.

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