On the last day of Khelo India School Games the fans witnessed four exciting teams fighting it out for the Hockey Gold. In the boys section the under 17 team from Odisha overcame Punjab, while Jharkhand girls went down fighting to Haryana.
Dominant Odisha tame Punjab to win the Hockey Gold
Playing to a plan, Odisha once again asserted their supremacy over Punjab beating them 2-1 to win the hockey gold and title of Boys Hockey competition of the Khelo India School Games. The final was held at the Dhyan Chand National stadium, New Delhi. It was live telecasted on Star Sports.
The Odisha boys, who had beaten Punjab 3-0 in the league, once again dominated the final proving that their previous victory over their rivals was no fluke. In fact the score line does not do justice to the winners, who in reality should have won by much higher margin.
Odisha boys showed no sign of fatigue after having played a grueling semi-final against Uttar Pradesh. Punjab on the other hand had whipped Chandigarh in the other semi final.
The fast moving Odisha boys started attacking the Punjab team from the very start giving their rivals no time to settle down.
Surprisingly, despite having upper hand for most of the time, Odisha earned a breakthrough only a minute before the half time. Sushil Dhanwar scored off a penalty corner.
Punjab tried to make their presence felt by launching furious attacks as the second session opened. However, Odisha not only foiled their efforts, but riding on a counter attack they increased the lead in the 41st minute through striker Sudeep Chirmako to make it 2-0.
Stunned by this reverse Punjab changed tactics and started making moves from the flanks.
Odisha also re-grouped team as they strengthened their defence while in form Sundeep, Samir Ekka and Sushant Toppo made intrusive moves.
Midway through this half Odisha again regained the control of mid-field, but this time the strikers turned out to be poor marksmen. Just before the final whistle Punjab scored a consolation goal through Surdarshan Singh.
Odisha coach Sanji Kerketta was elated with his team’s performance.
“We played better hockey throughout. We played to a plan in the final. The boys were not overawed by the occasion,” he said.
Punjab coach Rupinder Singh said that his boys gave their best but added, “Only one team wins and Odisha won.”
For the third place Chandigarh trounced Uttar Pradesh 5-1 after leading 2-1 at half time. For the winners Arshdeep Singh, Sahibjeet Singh (two each) and Harmanpreet Singh (one) scored. Ali Akhtar scored the only goal for UP.
Jharkhand girls go down fighting as Haryana wins Hockey Gold
In the under 17 girls hockey gold medal match, a goal in the dying moments by Anu helped Haryana pip Jharkhand 2-1 in the final. It was Jharkhand, who struck first and led 1-0 at half time, but Haryana girls struck back later striking twice in the second half.
The Haryana vs Jharkhand Girls final turned out to be an engrossing affair as both teams played their hearts out. Yet, it was Haryana, who had the better of exchanges. But the winning margin was not a true reflection of the domination the Haryana girls enjoyed.
In the first half, Haryana muffed at least three good chances, two of them being through penalty corners and one solo effort. Jharkhand, too, earned six penalty corners, but failed to convert any of them.
Haryana strikers Manju and Komal spearheaded their teams charge, but were unable to breach their rivals’ crowded defence. The winners were rudely rattled in the 32nd minute when Jharkhand launched a tearing counter attack. In-form Subhani Bhengra made no mistake off a pass from Beauty Dung Dung to make it (1-0) and that was the margin at half time.
Eight minutes into the second half Haryana drew parity with skipper Sharmila scoring off a penalty corner (1-1). Motivated by this equaliser, Haryana went flat out on the offensive.
Having taken control of the mid field, Haryana forwards attacked from all sides, yet the goal eluded them. Manju and Komal Jyoti made solo attempts only to be foiled by the rival defenders.
As time ticked away and possibility of penalty shootout loomed large, Haryana struck through Anu who intercepted a rebound and slammed the ball home to make it 2-1 giving no chance to Jharkhand.
Haryana’s coach Nitin Sabharwal said that his players played well, but added, “We should have won with much higher margin. We had beaten Jharkhand earlier, were aware of their tactics and game plan and we planned our strategy accordingly which worked well.”
Jharkhand team manager Pradeep Mirdha opined, “My girls played good but could not convert the chances that came their way.”
In the match for bronze medal, three goals by Simranjeet Kaur enabled Punjab quell Chandigarh‘s second half upsurge.
Punjab led 2-1 at half time. Apart from Simranjeet (3), the other goal scorers were Baljeet Kaur and Mitali (I each). For Chandigarh Sonu (2), Barkha and Monu were the scorers.