Indian junior eves have ticked almost all the boxes in the Pool stage of the 9th Junior Women’s World Cup, maintaining an all-win record. The Salima Tete-captained side must have surprised many by their imperious showing in the showpiece event – the manner in which they put it across Germany 2-1 must have made other top teams such as the Netherlands, Argentina, and England sit up and take notice of them. With all respect to South Korea, the league-phase performance of the Erik Wonning-coached side left no one in doubt who will start as favourties in the quarterfinal clash. South Korea to be honest, would consider themselves lucky to make it to the quarterfinals despite losing two of their three pool games – they just made it on better goal average to nudge out Uruguay and Austria.
India played on expected lines to get the better of South Korea without really being challenged and romped into the semifinals of the 9th Junior Women’s World Cup. The 3-0 win was India’s first-ever win over the Koreans in the Junior Women’s World Cup – they drew Korea 2-2 in the 2005 edition at Santiago and lost 2-3 in the 2009 edition at Boston.
The early exchanges was lacklustre with both teams losing possession easily. India was guilty of quite a few unforced errors. Sharmila Devi, who has had a sedate tournament so far, showed a lot of purpose, darting down the right and engineering India’s first penalty corner. Skipper Salima Tete unleashed the PC that was deflected in by Mumtaz Khan, who is flying high after her hat-trick against Malaysia in the last tie- it was her sixth goal of the Junior World Cup.
There was an extra spring in the strides of the Indians after the 9th minute opening goal. There was no way the Koreans could keep Mumtaz Khan at bay – the Uttar Pradesh girl created a nice solo effort and let go a rasping shot that was parried away by the Korea goalkeeper Kim Eunji – Deepika subbsequently unleashed a rebound shot and Lalrindiki was at hand to slot the ball home to ensure India held sway in the opening half.
Down 0-2 at half-time, the onus was on the Koreans to throw a fight to the opposition as India could afford to sit back and defend the two-goal cushion. The redskirts won their first short corner but they made a mess of it, while taking the indirect route. India soon made them pay when Sangita Kumar nailed the third goal in the third quarter after a smart pass from Beauty Dung Dung to put serious roadblocks in the comeback hopes of the Koreans.
It was a match that was far from being an evenly-contested one but India would take it anytime as they stare at the prospect of facing mighty Netherlands in the semifinals on Sunday unless of course, hosts South Africa cause the biggest upset of the Junior Women’s World Cup.