The Indian men’s and women’s teams advanced to the final of hockey 5s competition in the Youth Olympics after registering emphatic wins over their respective opponents. India defeated hosts Argentina 3-1 in the men’s semifinal match on Saturday while the women’s team beat China 3-0 in their last-four match.
The Indian men face Malaysia in the summit clash while their women counterparts take on hosts Argentina in the final.
This is the first time India is taking part in a hockey competition in the Youth Olympics. The country did not feature in the earlier two editions. Hockey 5s, the five-a-side version, is played on a pitch smaller than the normal 11-player game and it was introduced in the 2014 Singapore Youth Olympics.
In the men’s semifinal match, Sudeep Chirmako (12th and 18th minute) and Rahul Kumar Rajbhar (3th) scored for India while captain Facundo Zarate found the target for Argentina. India took the lead through Rahul Kumar but Argentina were quick to equalise as they scored through Facundo Zarate in the 4th minute. Both the teams had chances in the remaining six minutes of the first period but their goalkeepers made some fine saves to keep the scores locked at 1-1 at half-time.
In the second period, India maintained pressure and benefited from it as they took the lead in the 12th minute through Sudeep Chirmako who produced a fine finish to swing the match in India’s favour. Indian goalkeeper Prashant Chauhan kept his team in the lead as he was called into action again in the next few minutes to deny the hosts of an equaliser.
Indian attackers also created chances and were successful again in the 18th minute as Sudeep Chirmako scored his second goal of the match to give a two-goal advantage for his side. Argentina tried to make a comeback in the dying minutes but the Indians stood firm and denied the home side any more goal.
In the women’s semifinal, India outplayed their Chinese opponents with goals coming from Mumtaz Khan (1st minute), Reet (5th) and Lalremsiami (13th). India dominated the match right from the start as they put pressure on the Chinese defence by keeping possession.
The Indian team was rewarded for their efforts as Mumtaz Khan scored just after 52 seconds. Even after that, India kept the possession and created several chances from inside and outside the 11-metres area. The 5th minute saw Indian midfielder Reet make a fierce shot from the half-way line, which beat the Chinese goalkeeper Xinyi Zhu on her right and gave her side a 2-0 lead.