Kovilpatti (Tamil Nadu) [India], May 26 (ANI): The 12th Hockey India Junior Men National Championship 2022 held at Kovilpatti, Tamil Nadu has reached the semi-final stage, with the final four teams ready to take the field in their respective clashes on Friday.
In the first semi-final, defending champions Uttar Pradesh will take on the free-scoring Haryana for a place in the final. Both teams have reached the semi-final with a 100 per cent winning record in the tournament so far.
Speaking ahead of the semi-final, Uttar Pradesh coach Vikas Pal said in a statement, "It is common knowledge by now that Haryana is a dangerous and attacking team. This is what they have shown in the competition so far. Nevertheless, I am confident in my team's abilities to stand up to the challenge of this difficult opponent and play our best hockey on the day. If we can manage to do that, we have every chance to proceed to the final."
On the other hand, Haryana coach Rajender Kumar Sihag too seemed upbeat about his side's chances of progressing to the final. He said, "There is no doubt that our semi-final clash against Uttar Pradesh will be our toughest match in the tournament so far. We have analysed their games closely and know about their particular strengths and weaknesses on the pitch. We have to focus on our approach to this game and implement the tactics which we have worked on from the start of this tournament. We are in the crucial stages of the competition now, so we have to be careful to avoid making any mistakes on the pitch tomorrow."
In the second semi-final, Chandigarh will come up against Odisha, who defeated Punjab in the last quarter-final match late on Wednesday.
Speaking ahead of the semi-final match, Chandigarh coach Gurminder Singh said, "Big semi-final matches are always tense affairs where neither team wants to make mistakes and give their opponents any kind of an advantage to capitalize on. While this kind of approach is normal, our main focus will be on playing our natural game and trusting our skills which have gotten us this far into the tournament. Odisha is a disciplined defensive unit, so we are working on drills in training aimed at applying pressure on their defensive line."
Odisha coach Bijay Kumar Lakra said ahead of the semi-final, "The Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh region is famous for producing fantastic hockey players and teams playing a fast and attacking style of hockey. This is a challenge which is difficult for any team or coach to deal with, but one that we will relish as we want to play against the best teams in the country. The match tomorrow will be between two sides who are equals in terms of skill and determination. Both teams are capable of progressing to the final. The mental aspect will be the most important factor in deciding the winner in the match tomorrow." (ANI)