Germany went one step further than they did in 2021, upgrading their silver to gold by claiming a 2-1 victory over France in the final of the FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup in Malaysia.
A brave performance from the Germans saw them coming back from a goal down to clinch the win against a determined French side.
Spain ensured they wouldn’t leave Malaysia empty-handed after beating India 3-1 to secure the bronze medal.
In the battle for fifth place, it was the Netherlands who prevailed with a 2-1 victory over Australia, while 2021 champions Argentina had to be content with seventh spot after a 6-3 win over Pakistan.
After 12 days of exhilarating action, Belgium’s Hugo Labouchere finished as the tournament’s top scorer with nine goals while the top goal-scoring team was Spain with 27.
France’s Gaspard Xavier was named player of the tournament and also received the FIH Rising Star award while Germany’s Joshua Onyekwue Nnaji was named best goalkeeper of the tournament.
Here is how all four matches played out on the final day…
Argentina vs Pakistan (Full-Time Score: 6-3)
Argentina beat Pakistan 6-3 to finish their tournament on a winning note. The South Americans scored first, a Tomas Ruiz drag flick looping back to him off the keeper for an easy hit in. Arbaz Ahmad responded for Pakistan with a drag flick but Argentina regained the lead from a low Ruiz drag flick. Just five minutes later they turned over possession weakly for Ahmad to then score from the resulting penalty stroke. The half ended 2-2.
Argentina survived another poor turnover in the opening minute of the second half before going ahead again, Joaquin Toscani making a devastating run from midfield to feed Ramiro Infanzon for a deflection. The Argentinians extended their lead when Ignacio Nardolillo stole a ball 60m out and fed Bautista Capurro who screamed in his reverse shot. Ahmad then handed Pakistan a lifeline, completing his hat-trick from another penalty stroke, but Argentina responded immediately with an Ignacio Persoglio drag flick. Juan Fernandez then sealed the match and 7th place in the tournament for Argentina with a deflection from open play.
Player of the match Argentinian Joaquin Toscani reflected: “It’s good because the match was very hard. It was important to finish the tournament well. We learned that you need to defend to win matches, and you need the goals that you have in the rival area, you have to finish.”
Netherlands vs Australia (Full-Time Score: 2-1)
The Dutch dominated the statistics and were patient with possession in a deserved 2-1 win over Australia. The Australians created dangerous chances for deflections in the opening half but the Dutch simply had the better opportunities throughout. Australian keeper Max Larkin made a great stick save to deny Timo Boers from a penalty corner in the 14th minute and added two more saves from open play before failing to clear a loose ball, Dylan Lucieer pouncing on the scraps for Netherlands to lead 1-0 at half time.
The Dutch controlled the second half, starving Australia of possession and testing the excellent Larkin repeatedly before Bouwe Buitenhuis popped a delicate overhead to unmarked Casper van der Veen on the p-spot for their second goal. Cooper Burns gave Australia faint hopes after rifling in a drag flick from a penalty corner just 90 seconds from time, but the Dutch secured the win and with that, fifth place in the tournament.
Player of the match for the Netherlands was Boris Aardenburg who reflected on the lessons learned: “I think the mentality, we started with a pretty tough match against Argentina where the mentality wasn’t there. After we learnt in a few games that we could turn the game around, especially against Belgium, we showed a lot of toughness.”
India vs Spain (Full-Time Score: 1-3)
Spain proved the better team on the day and emerged as 3-1 winners against India in the third-place playoff. The first half was evenly contested, India starting better but unable to beat Jan Capellades in goal. The momentum then shifted towards the Spanish who were patient in possession, and Nicolas Alvarez fired in a field goal to take the lead. India hit back off a penalty corner, Sunil Jojo, reacting fastest to the rebound and levelling the scores at 1-1 before the break.
Spain dominated in the third quarter, but Indian goalkeeper Mohith Shashikumar proved up to the task. Capellades then made an excellent save for Spain before Pau Petchame finally snuck one through the Indian defence to regain the lead. Spain put the game out of reach in the final quarter, Pol Cabre Verdiell crossing to Alvarez for a deflection. India had opportunities to claw their way back through several penalty corners, but Capellades kept them out, with some assistance from the crossbar, and Spain secured a well-deserved bronze medal.
Player of the match was a delighted Pau Petchame for Spain who said: “For me and all the team it’s history… we wanted to win third place because we worked a lot in the last two years… we are proud of all the team, they are so happy, I am so happy.”
Germany vs France (Full-Time Score: 2-1)
Germany came from behind to beat France 2-1 as both teams enjoyed periods of dominance in a fitting final. French goalkeeper Marius Clément got his angles exactly right in the opening minute to deny the Germans an early lead. A German defender then miss-trapped a ball and it sat up beautifully for Tom Gaillard who unfortunately failed to connect with his shot. Clément again reacted quickly to shut down Ben Hasbach as the first quarter ended. Jules Verrier opened the scoring for France in the second period, receiving a glorious pass from Louis Haertelmeyer and evading numerous defenders to beat the keeper from close range. The rest of the half was tightly contested, and France led 1-0 at the break.
The momentum was building for Germany though, and Jan Cordes pounced on a poor French clearance to slap in an equaliser for Germany in the second minute of the half. Liam Holdermann added an excellent field goal, holding his shot until Clément committed himself. Paul Glander nearly made it three from a penalty corner, but Clément made an incredible save to keep France in the hunt. The French attacked freely in the final quarter but couldn’t find a way through, and Germany claimed the gold medal for the seventh time.
Player of the match, German’s Michel Struthoff was overcome with emotion, saying: “It’s unbelievable. They are such a good team…. My father is there and my mother… all the family, all the friends, thank you so much! We did it!”
To see the full results, click here.
FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Malaysia 2023 - 16 December 2023
Bukit Jalil National Hockey Stadium, Kuala Lumpur
Result: Match 45
Argentina 6-3 Pakistan
Player of the Match: Joaquin Toscani (ARG)
Umpires: Tim Meissner (GER) and Lukasz Zwierzchowski (POL)
Result: Match 46
Netherlands 2-1 Australia
Player of the Match: Boris Aardenburg (NED)
Umpires: Nazmi Kamaruddin (MAS) and Jonathan von Hoesslin (RSA)
Result: Match 47
India 1-3 Spain
Player of the Match: Pau Petchame (ESP)
Umpires: James Unkles (AUS) and Hyosik You (KOR)
Result: Match 48
Germany 2-1 France
Player of the Match: Michel Struthoff (GER)
Umpires: Bruce Bale (ENG) and Zeke Newman (AUS)
Final standings: 1 Germany, 2 France, 3 Spain, 4 India, 5 Netherlands, 6 Australia, 7 Argentina, 8 Pakistan, 9 Belgium, 10 South Africa, 11 New Zealand, 12 Malaysia, 13 Korea, 14 Egypt, 15 Chile, 16 Canada