High-scorers Manipur and Jharkhand will be in focus as the semi-finals of the 11th Hockey India Sub-Junior Men’s National Championship are played on Wednesday here. In the first semi-final match, Manipur will face Haryana while Uttar Pradesh will clash with Jharkhand in the second encounter.
Jharkhand have been in sublime form. They have scored 26 goals so far and won their quarter-final clash against Chandigarh by a resounding 7-0 margin, and will start as favourites against Uttar Pradesh.
Jharkhand coach Adam Horo believes that his team can continue to keep up their winning momentum. “I am really happy with the way the boys have applied themselves in the tournament so far. We are feeling confident of doing well in the Semi Final also. We worked hard on our short passing and finishing during the camp before the start of the championship and I’m glad that it has paid off and we hope to make further progress,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh had two of their pool games forfeited but registered a comfortable 3-0 win against Bihar in their quarter-final clash. Having reached the final in the previous edition as well, Uttar Pradesh now target going one step higher. Despite being short of match practice coming into the championship, Uttar Pradesh coach Vikas Pal is encouraged by his wards’ performance in quarter-finals.
“Our preparations were good but unfortunately, two of our pool games were forfeited. We faced a tough team in the quarter-final but the boys put up a very good show there. Jharkhand have had a good tournament but we’re confident of going to the final and winning it this time,” Pal said.
Manipur have emerged as tournament favourites, having beaten tournament top scorers Maharashtra in a six-goal thriller, and knocking out holders Odisha via a shootout in their quarter-final match.
Manipur coach Robert Singh Moirangthem has a tough battle ahead against Hockey Haryana. “Our preparations took a hit because of Covid-19, but we were determined to do well in this tournament. I expect a good performance from our players once again in the semi-finals. Winning or losing is secondary; I want my boys to give their 100 percent and express themselves against Haryana,” he said.
Haryana coach Gurvinder Singh is vary of his opponents in their last-four clash. His side eased into the last-four stage with a 2-0 win over Punjab.
“Manipur Hockey have been playing well but I’m confident that my team will give them a tough fight. I am happy with how our defence has performed so far. We need to be smart and capitalise on our chances in the semi-finals,” he said.
Both semi-final matches will be played on Wednesday. The Manipur-Haryana starts at 9 am while the second semi-final game between Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand starts at 4 pm.