Bhubaneshwar, Nov 24 (MNN) Indian hockey team went down fighting 5-4 to France in an FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2021 match here on Wednesday.
In the Pool B match played at the Kalinga Stadium, French skipper Clement Timothee scored a hat-trick while Marque Benjamin and Corentin Sellier scored the other two goals.
Uttam Singh scored one and vice-captain Sanjay responded with a hat-trick for the hosts but it was not enough.
It was a rapid start to the game as Timothee and Benjamin scored in the first few minutes to give 2013 junior World Cup silver-medallists France a 2-0 lead.
India responded in fine fashion. Uttam Singh soon deflected one in from close range to halve the deficit and Sanjay struck a firm drag-flick right at the end of the first quarter to level things up.
The second quarter was tightly contested with both sides attacking without much bite. However, Clement Timothee was just clinical enough from a penalty corner to help France carry a 3-2 lead into the half-time break.
Timothee scored another from a penalty corner early in the third quarter to complete his hat-trick and India struggled to create many chances.
The Frenchmen scored early yet again in the game’s final quarter but India came back strongly. The hosts’ Maninder Singh crashed a shot off the post and their attacks earned them two penalty corners.
Sanjay converted both with blistering pace and accuracy to complete his own hat-trick and gave India some impetus in the final moments. However, with just a minute to see out, France focused on keeping possession by the corner and managed to sneak past.
India are the defending champions and are looking for their third men’s junior World Cup title. They now face must-win clashes against Canada and Poland in Pool B to make the quarter-finals.
India take on Canada in their second Pool B match on Thursday.