New Delhi [India] December 2 (ANI): The Indian junior hockey team has been on a rampage in the ongoing FIH Junior World Cup 2021 being played in Bhubaneswar. Vivek Sagar Prasad-led side have entered the semi-final beating Belgium by a solitary goal in the quarter-final match.
Despite numerous attempts made by the Belgians the Indian defence stood tall and maintained a clean sheet right throughout the match. The Indian coach Graham Reid was also highly impressed with the way the Indian youngsters played.
"Our defence was much better in this match than our first game against France. We are doing a lot of work on it. I think they are marking a lot tighter. I was talking to captain Vivek and the good part is that we can do much better than what we did. Both the goal-keepers did much better but we still have some work to do and we will work on it in the next few days," said Graham Reid in the post-match press conference.
Indian captain Vivek Sagar Prasad echoed similar views about the game and gave credit to the calmness the coach has brought into the side to deal in the pressure situation.
"It is about staying calm in pressure situations and big matches. The coach said that we need to stay calm and that is what we try to do," explained the Indian Junior team captain Vivek Sagar Prasad.
With both the Indian goal-keepers Prashant Chauhan and Pawan being rotated in every quarter both ensured that India maintained a clean slate as a lot of shots on target were saved. These are good signs for India as they are looking for someone who can fill in the big shoes of goal-keeper PR Sreejesh.
"I do not do selections but both the goalkeepers were very impressive. If they do well in their careers then it will be great. Goalkeeping is about every other position in the pitch, it is about creating competitiveness and getting better," said coach Graham Reid while replying to ANI query.
Barring a defeat in the opening game against France the Indian colts have been on a winning streak registering some wins by huge margins but now the defending champions are up against Germany who have the best history in the junior world cup winning it a whopping 6 times.
"You should never ever write Germany off even in the last seconds. They have proven over the time and years that they are a class side especially at this level of competition at the junior world cup. They have won this tournament more than any team by a long way. They won it when I was playing. So, they are a quality team. We played them in the practice match as well," said Graham Reid on playing Germans in the next match.
Ahead of the all-important semi-final clash, India will miss the services of striker Maninder Singh who has been pivotal in creating chances for India as he is ruled out of the entire tournament due to a hamstring injury.
"No, I don't think that his hamstring will be ready as it is a 2-3 week injury, unfortunately. So, Maninder is out for the rest of the tournament." said Indian coach Graham Reid.
The Indian colts have lived up to the expectations of being the defending champion as well as used the home conditions to a great affect but the coach is vary of the fact that the job is not done yet as the mission is to win the junior world cup.
"It is good to celebrate but we have not won anything yet. We are going to play in the semi-final. It is about keeping yourself grounded and lets not get ahead of ourselves. As far as momentum is concerned then you create your own momentum and what I said before that we can play a lot better. So, it's a good sign for a team to win when we are not playing at our best. I think we can play a lot better, which is an exciting part," expressed Graham Reid in order to keep his focus on winning the World Cup.
With the Indian hockey team winning an Olympic medal after 41 years, a win in the junior world cup would mean that the next generation is knocking on the door and they have the potential to make progress in the Indian team in the future which the likes of Manpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh have done in the past. The Indian senior team hockey coach Graham Reid who is coaching the young guns too is also keeping an eye on India's future. (ANI)