India thrash Argentina, win Junior World Cup

A hat-trick by Deepak Thakur propels India to 6-1 victory over Argentina in the final of the 7th World Junior Hockey Championships.

updated: February 25, 2007 08:37 IST
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Propelled by a brilliant hat-trick by Deepak Thakur, India's 'glory boys' destroyed Argentina 6-1 to take home the Junior World Cup for the first time in the country's hockey history. Skill, spirit and strength came to the fore as last edition's runners up India (they lost 2-3 to Australia in 1997 at Milton Keynes, England) took hold of the match right from the word go, their forwards creating mayhem as Argentina wilted under constant pressure. Besides Thakur (53rd, 56th and 59th minutes), the other scorers, in what is India's first crown at the world level since 1980 Moscow Olympics, were Jugraj Singh who hammered in two penalty corners (19th, 44th) and Prabhjot Singh who opened the floodgates for India second minutes into the match. The lone scorer for Argentina was Lucas Cammareri (43rd). Ironically Argentina has been the nemesis of the senior Indian hockey team and now it can draw vicarious pleasure from the rout of the South American champions. Coach Rajinder Singh was almost in tears and at a loss to describe his emotions. "What do I say now. It's a great feeling. I am proud of this bunch and I hope we can turn this victory into something bigger at 2002 Senior World Cup". Thakur, with a hat-trick in his kitty and who also emerged as the tournament's highest scorer with ten goals, said, "The team wanted a win very badly. We owed it to the nation. And thanks to the coach who has been absolutely great, we have been able to win the World Cup. It's really unbelievable." India made their intentions clear when they started with five forwards and after a foray into the Argentina circle, earned their first penalty corner in the fourth minute. Jugraj Singh flicked strongly but the Argentina 'keeper managed to push it away with his gloves. India went ahead in the 10th minute when a move from the midfield saw Arjun Halappa sending a cross as the Argentine defence advanced. Prabhjot Singh, running in from the left flank, gave the slip and trapped the ball neatly, sending it high into the net to beat the keeper. Argentina, resorted to some solid body tackles to disrupt the rhythm of their rivals but India still managed a penalty corner in the 16th minute which was saved by the 'keeper. But Jugraj Singh was not to be stopped for long. In the 19th minute, he took the ball at the top of the circle early and his powerful flick stunned the keeper into conceding the second goal as India led 2-0. Though both India and Argentina had a penalty corner each after this, the former managed to maintain their 2-0 lead at the break. India returned determined on resumption, earning three penalty corners but could not beat the Argentina goalkeeper who blocked the flicks successfully. The South Americans finally created space and after a beautiful cross from the right, found Camareri right in front of the Indian goal in the 43rd minute. Camareri's deft deflection beat goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan to make it 2-1. India retorted with counter-attack to earn a penalty corner and Jugraj Singh, charging out early, flicked neatly to the top left of the keeper to score the third goal for India. Argentina had three penalty corners in succession in the 45th minute but could not control the ball properly. After a few minutes of ball possession in the midfield, India went into a counter-attack in the 53rd minute with Prabhjot Singh speeding away. His strong shot was trapped by Deepak Thakur who flicked in for the fourth goal. Argentina were clearly wilting now. Unable to play their fast, physical game, they were running out of ideas. It almost led to a scuffle as both the teams crowded over an infringement but the umpires broke it up early. Three minutes later, in the 56th minute, Deepak Thakur took off down the left, just inside the circle and his patent reverse shot beat the keeper hands down. Another infringement led to frayed tempers as India's Vikram Pillay and Argentina's Lucas Rey were shown yellow cards. India kept attacking with the defence now trying to overlap and come up. Kanwalpreet Singh advanced in the 59th minute and his powerful hit from just outside the midfield line, was trapped by Deepak Thakur on top of the Argentina circle. Swinging around, he let fly a stunner that tore into the net for the team's sixth goal and his own hat-trick. With ten minutes remaining, India had a few chances but they concentrated on keeping Argentina away with some good defensive work and excellent ball possession. Earlier in the day, Germany beat England 5-1 to finish third. Spain finished fifth beating Australia to sixth place with a 2-0 win while South Korea beat The Netherlands 3-2 to finish seventh. (PTI)