KUALA LUMPUR: India started their 2023 Men’s FIH Hockey Junior World Cup (JWC) campaign on a high note with a convincing 4-2 victory over South Korea in a Group C match here at National Hockey Stadium, Bukit Jalil yesterday (Dec 5).

Araijeet Singh Hundal emerged as the hero for India after scoring a hat-trick to share three points with Spain (three points) in Group C second place on goal difference, followed by South Korea and Canada.

JWC 2001 champions, India, drew the first blood as Araijeet scored two goals through a penalty corner and a field goal in the 11th and 16th minute of the match.

India under the guidance of C. Kumar then added one goal to lead 3-0 with Amandeep’s field goal in the 30th minute, however South Korea managed to close the gap through Dohyun Lim’s penalty corner in 38th minute before Araijeet delivered the fourth goal for India in the 41st minute.

The world number 11th South Korea fought back and were rewarded in the 45th minute after Kim Minkwon scored a penalty corner.

Commenting on the match, Kumar expressed satisfaction with the win while admitting the team needed to tighten their defence ahead of their next match.

“I’m very happy to get three points in the opening game, we can see the opposition’s goal through penalty corner, we need to pay attention on this part, but I’m so happy Araijeet scored a hat-trick,” he said in the post-match press conference here, yesterday.

Meanwhile, in another Group C action, Spain thrashed Canada 7-0 to top the group.

Spain, coached by Torras Puig Oriol took the lead early in the game as Nicolas Alvarez scored through a field goal in the second minute before Pol Cabre Verdiell’s doubled their lead via a penalty corner in the 11th minute.

In the second quarter of the match, Andreas Rafi extended Spain’s the lead with their third goal in the 18th minute through a penalty stroke before Oriol Bozal put them in an even more comfortable position with double penalty corner scores in the 44th and 45 minute.

Another goal for Spain was scored by Xavier Barutell through as a field goal in the 52th minute and the team’s goal fest continued through Bruno Font’s field goal in the 55th minute.

The result remained 7-0 until the final whistle.

Spain, ranked sixth in the world will play against India to continue their JWC campaign on Thursday while Canada will meet South Korea. - Bernama

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