A well-oiled France outsmarted defending champion India 5-4 in a Pool B match to cause the biggest upset on the opening day of the men’s hockey Junior World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium on Wednesday.
The lack of cohesiveness was apparent as the host was beaten by France in every department.
France, which finished a surprise runner-up in Delhi in 2013, shocked the defending champion by scoring in the opening minute through its captain Timothee Clement’s smart field goal.
The shock doubled for the host when the fast-paced France went 2-0 up in the seventh minute. The trio of Mathis Clement, Jules Verrier and Benjamin Marque finished off a well-coordinated move, reflecting France’s excellent preparation.
India managed to pull one back as Uttam Singh slotted in a rebound off the team’s first penalty corner. Sanjay’s drag-flick drew parity before the first break.
The second quarter belonged to France. Clement’s crisp drag-flick off his team’s first long corner put France in the lead again and the next four, in a row, exposed the Indian defence.
The Frenchmen dictated the pace and earned three successive penalty corners after the half-time and Clement completed his hattrick to dent the host’s confidence.
France underlined its authority through Corentin Sellier’s field goal in the final quarter.
Sanjay struck twice in the closing minutes to score a forgettable hattrick.
Pool A: Belgium 5 (Roman Duvekot 7, 45; Nelson Onana 24; Arno van Dessel 55; Rik van Cleynenbreugel 58) bt South Africa 1 (Jacques van Tonder 15+); Malaysia 2 (Kamarulzaman Kamaruddin 34; Syarman Mat 43) bt Chile 1 (Sebastian Wolansky 59); Pool B: Poland 1 (Eryk Bembenek 34) bt Canada 0; France 5 (Timothee Clement 1, 23, 32; Benjamin Marque 7; Corentin Sellier 48) bt India 4 (Uttam Singh 10, Sanjay 15+, 57, 58); Pool D: Germany 5 (Michel Struthoff 1; Robert Duckscheer 14, 54; Maximilian Siegburg 19; Benedikt Schwarzhaupt 22) bt Pakistan 2 (Abdul Shahid 18; Muhammed Hammadudin 49).