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India overcome Korea 2-1 to clinch maiden title in Women’s Junior Asia Cup

 India defeated Korea 2-1 in a riveting final match on Sunday to claim their maiden title in the Women’s Junior Asia Cup 2023 held in Kakamigahara, Japan.

Annu (22′) and Neelam (41′) scored a goal each for India while Seoyeon Park (25′) struck the lone goal for Korea in the captivating final match played on Sunday.

It was a collective team effort from the Indian junior women’s team that ultimately led to their triumph in this crucial encounter. This is the first time that India have won the Women’s Junior Asia Cup.

India started the game on an attacking note by winning a penalty corner in the opening minute of the game, but they failed to capitalise on it. However, Korea shifted the momentum in their favour by counter-attacking and controlling possession. They also won an early penalty corner but Neelam made a goal-line clearance to deny Korea. Despite both teams playing an attacking game, the first quarter ended goalless.

Korea stuck to their attacking approach in the second quarter as well thus pushing India on backfoot. Korea were also awarded quite a few penalty corners, however, India not only stood strong in defence to keep the opposition’s attackers at bay, but also put Korea under pressure by taking the lead through Annu (22′) who calmly converted a penalty stroke.

However, India’s lead didn’t last long as Seoyeon Park (25′) scored an equaliser for Korea through a well-placed shot from inside the D. The second quarter didn’t witness any more goals as both teams went into the half-time break with the score level at 1-1.

The second half of the match started with Korea focused on keeping the possession, while the Indian team switched to counter-attacking and it paid off as Neelam (41′) brilliantly converted a penalty corner to put India in front as the third quarter ended with the score 2-1 in the favour of the Indian team.

To protect their lead, India shifted their focus on defending and controlling the tempo of the game by keeping possession in the fourth quarter.

Korea, on the other hand, made some forced errors and misdirected passes in their desperation to find an equaliser. Ultimately, India stood strong and stuck to their strategy to win the summit clash 2-1.

Speaking about the Final, India junior women’s team captain Preeti said, “Following a 1-1 draw in the round-robin stage, we were acutely aware of the specific areas we needed to excel to overcome Korea. The final match brought about a considerable amount of nerves. However, we knew that as a team we have to play our best game to achieve something special and that’s exactly what we did. We are elated to make our nation proud.”

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