Monday, May 20, 2024

Jr men’s hockey nationals: Chandigarh, Haryana, M.P qualify for semis

Hockey Chandigarh, Hockey Haryana, Hockey Madhya Pradesh and Hockey Association of Odisha advanced to the semifinals stage of the 13th Hockey India Junior Men National Championship 2023, which will begin on Wednesday.

Hockey Chandigarh faced Hockey Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Hockey in Pool B and defeated both teams to advance to the quarterfinal stage of the tournament, where they faced Hockey Punjab and won 1-1 (3-2) in penalty shootouts to advance to the Semi-Final.

“I feel our team is very skilled and fit. There is exceptional coordination among all the players which has helped us beat every team in our path. We will use this rest day to analyse our opponent’s strengths and weaknesses to devise strategies that will give us the best chance to win,” said Hockey Chandigarh Coach Gurminder Singh.

Hockey Haryana put on a good show in Pool C, defeating Hockey Uttarakhand and Hockey Himachal to finish the pool stage unbeaten. In the quarterfinals, they faced Hockey Jharkhand and won in penalty shootouts 2-2 (3-2).

“Our boys have fantastic team spirit. Their maturity and determination at this age are admirable, and it is due to these qualities that we have progressed so far. The game against Hockey Chandigarh will be difficult, but I am confident in the team and am confident of a good showing in the semifinals,” said coach Bharat Singh.

Hockey Madhya Pradesh topped Pool A after defeating Uttar Pradesh Hockey and Kerala Hockey during the group stage of the tournament, and in the process earning a spot in the tournament’s knockout round. Hockey Madhya Pradesh defeated Hockey Maharashtra 9-2 in their quarterfinal match to advance to the last-four stage.

“It has been a difficult journey so far, especially since Uttar Pradesh Hockey was in our pool, but all credit to the boys who kept their patience and stuck to the principles that we taught and beat the defending Champions. But the aim is to go all the way to the final. Going forward, we will look to create as much pressure as we can in the opponents’ D, play short passes and create two-on-ones on the wings and hopefully walk away with a win,” said coach Mangal Vaid.

Hockey Association of Odisha defeated Manipur Hockey, Hockey Jammu & Kashmir, and Hockey Gujarat in Pool D. They then defeated Hockey Karnataka by a score of 4-2 in the Quarterfinal to advance to the semifinal stage of the tournament.

“The national championship has been difficult so far because I’m working with a new group, but I enjoy working with them because these boys listen and try to do what we ask of them, so it’s been a good journey so far. Hockey Madhya Pradesh is a good team; how we perform against them is determined by how well we capitalise on our strengths, the Penalty Corner conversion, and how well we neutralise their threat from field goals,” said coach Kariappa Bollepanda.

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