After a sensational 5-1 win against Wales in their opening game at the FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup in South Africa, the Salima Tete-led Indian team beat Germany 2-1 in their second pool D match, thus booking their place in the quarterfinals of the prestigious quadrennial event here on Sunday.
While Indian Junior Women’s goalkeeper Bichu Devi Kharibam came up with a phenomenal performance at the goal post, Lalremsiami (2′) and Mumtaz Khan (25′) scored a goal each in India’s win.
Getting off to a rollicking start with an early PC in the 2nd minute, India put pressure on the Germans right from the start. While the dragflick by Deepika was excellently saved by the German goalkeeper Mali Wichmann, the experienced Lalremsiami picked up the rebound and used the space she had to pump the ball into the post with ease.
Though the 1-0 lead put Germany on the backfoot, they remained resolute to create some fine chances in the circle. However, the Indian defence led by goalkeeper Bichu Devi Kharibam was exceptional in her pursuit to stop Germany from scoring.
The second quarter was action-packed with Germany, who had beaten Malaysia 10-0 in their opening match, bringing their tactical expertise and composure to work their way into India’s circle. An infringement by the Indian defence in the 22nd minute saw the German’s being awarded with a penalty stroke. This was perhaps their best chance to equalise but India’s goalie Bichu Devi was absolutely phenomenal in her effort to deny the Germans an equaliser.
Her diving save was the highlight of the game, giving India the right amount of adrenaline to pump up the ante and put further pressure on Germany. Only minutes later, Mumtaz Khan converted a swift goal, once again through a penalty corner variation that was brilliantly executed. It was Reet who took the shot with Mumtaz working a good variation taking India’s lead to a neat 2-0.
Germany would have been disappointed for not being able to convert from the chances they created in the last five minutes of the second quarter where they created two crucial PCs. But Bichu Devi continued to be aggressive in her performance to keep the Germans at bay. Overall, Germany had 27 circle penetrations and 22 shots on goal.
The third quarter saw India on top gear as they attacked the German half with lethal speed and strategic counter attacks but they could not find success from these efforts. While they could have extended the lead by another goal or two, they could not quite convert from these chances.
Meanwhile, Germany bounced back in the final quarter with Jule Bleuel scoring a fine field goal from the top of the circle in the 57th minute. While it looked like the Germans could have equalised, India held their nerves in the tense final moments to keep the lead and seal their quarterfinals berth.
Awarded the Player of the Match for her incredible performance, an elated Bichu Devi expressed, “It was amazing to make the penalty stroke save. It was an exciting match and we are happy to have won this.”