Hermanpreet hat-trick helps India down Malaysia in Johor Cup

JOHOR BAHRU (TIP): Hermanpreet Singh did the star turn with a hat-trick of goals as India enhanced their chances to qualify for the final of the Under-21 Sultan of Johor Cup with a convincing 4-2 win over hosts Malaysia, on october 16. In top form after thrashing Pakistan 6-0 yesterday, the Harjeet Singh-led side improved their chances of making it to the final after notching up its third win in four games.

India though had some tough moments in the game after the hosts overcame a 2-0 deficit to draw level after half-time. But two late strikes from India saved the day for the Harendra Singh-coached side. The two teams wasted their respective penalty corner chances at the start but India soon forced three more penalty corners to get a goal off the last one in the 25th minute by Hermanpreet Singh.

Two minutes later Hermanpreet punished Malaysia again with another drag flick into the roof of the net to take a 2-0 lead. Malaysia then struck back to reduce the deficit in the 37th minute as Sufi Ismat Rohulmin went past two defenders and sent a reverse stick shot into goal. The goal acted as a booster as Azril Misron levelled the score with his 42nd minute strike through a beautiful right cross from Norsyafiq Sumantri. But Hermanpreet proved his ability in penalty corners as he scored India’s third and his hattrick in the 55th minute to edge ahead in the game.

India were then awarded a penalty stroke in the 65th minute and Varun Kumar put the result beyond doubt by scoring to make it 4-2. Commenting on the win, coach Harendra said, “I am extremely pleased to see the way the boys have performed today. Starting off well, they conceded two quick goals in the second half but did not allow pressure to take hold of them and remained calm.

This composure helped the boys to make a brilliant comeback, the result of which is this well-deserved win for them. I am proud of the way they handled the stressful situation and look forward to similar performances in future.” India next take on Australia on Saturday and a win against the Kangaroos would seal the team’s final berth.

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