Credits: DNA India

In one of the most fiercely competed matches of the tournament, India lost 3-2 to Canada in the 5th place match. With this win, Canada became the fifth team to qualify for the World Cup next year in India. This will be their first appearance in the World Cup after eight years as they missed to qualify for the 2014 edition.

It was a similar result that India saw against Malaysia in the quarterfinals a few days back. Harmanpreet Singh scored twice for India but could not see them through. For Canada, Johnston scored twice including a cracking winner in the third quarter. Keegan Pereira produced the all-important equalizer for them.

India coming into the match after a comfortable 6-1 win against Pakistan were the favorites. Canada had faced a 4-2 loss against England in the quarters but had defeated China then 7-3. India had defeated Canada 3-0 in their Group stage match earlier. But the Canadians with a sole purpose of qualifying for the World Cup turned the tables this time.

The first goal came for Canada in the 3rd minute of the game as Johnston converted their second penalty corner. India though keeping much of the possession was not able to penetrate through the Canadian defense. Then in the 7th minute, Harmanpreet scored off India’s first PC leveling the score 1-1. The second quarter too saw India dominate the possession and it finally paid off when in the 22nd minute Harmanpreet converted another penalty corner to hand India the lead. As the half time whistle blew India was looking to become the undoubted winners because of their aggressive play and dominance on the field.

After the first half, Harmanpreet said,” It was a good half. We would like to continue it. Get more penalty corners and go ahead.”

India headed on to the third quarter with heads held all high. Still keeping the possession, India racked up over 30 circle penetrations. But their conversion rate of less than 10% was questionable. The Canadian goalkeeper Antoni Kindler showed some excellent reflexes as he saved two definite goals. One off the deflection of a defender and another shot from Akashdeep Singh from his right. The score which could have then been 4-1 was held back by the Canadian defense to 2-1. Canada then scored twice in 4 minutes both off counter attacks and the Indian defense left out of position.

This was what changed the scenes for India in the match. India built on their aggressive play in the fourth quarter too which seemed to have worked well against Pakistan. But the Canadian defense proved to be much more clinical than the Pakistanis. They held their nerve for the whole of the last quarter. Kindler again came to the rescue after he blocked a blockbuster aerial shot from Mandeep Singh. India played all eleven on the field for the last 3 minutes but could not see past the well-formed defense.

An applaudable defensive effort from the Canadian side and a faltering Indian attack even after receiving 10 penalty corners saw India go down in the contest. Pakistan won in their 7th place match against China who remained as the last team to qualify in the top 8. England and Malaysia will face each other in the 3rd place match after their respective defeats in the semis. The finals will see the Netherlands take on the World Champion Argentina.

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