India started their campaign at the 2021 Hockey Men's Junior World Cup on a losing note. The Vivek Sagar Prasad-led team failed to find an answer for the supremely attacking France team who managed to bag the game 5-4 despite some good comeback from the hosts at the Kalinga Stadium on Wednesday night.
France struck in the very first minute of the game with the help of skipper Timothee Clement who scored on a reverse after a save was made from India. Before the hosts could have some time to score the equaliser, Benjamin Marque scored another for the French side and India were 0-2 down within the first 8 minutes of the game. However, Uttam Singh and Sanjay scored in the latter half of the first quarter to bring India back in the game.
After the start of the second quarter, France took the lead again and India failed to equalise throughout the game. As a result, the hosts lost despite scoring two back-to-back goals in the final minutes of the game. What would hurt India the most was the lack of coordination among the players that eventually saw plenty of opportunities getting wasted at the opposition's goalpost.
Some of the goalscoring opportunities were missed: Graham Reid
Soon after the game, national head coach Graham Reid also admitted that the players lacked coordination. He added that the Indian side made some basic errors and let themselves down.
"It's very hard to win when you concede 5 goals. We created enough opportunities and we went very close to winning, but we didn't. We made basic errors. Some of the goalscoring opportunities were missed," said Reid to media after the game.
"Having said that, congratulations to France, they played a really good game. They were sharp, they were keen to win the game. Our boys had the equal intensity to win, but, unfortunately, somethings didn't go quite right tonight," he added.
When asked if it was the lack of coordination that cost India the game, the coach said, "Yeah, but it's hard to get coordination if the basics are not right. I think we let ourselves down...the marking at the back was not pleasing. A couple of mistakes like that...the french made us pay tonight (Wednesday)."