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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Demoralised India colts put up a luckluster show to surrender meekly by loosing 1-3 against a dominant France in the third-fourth play-off game of the FIH Odisha Men's Junior World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday.

While India colts had to contend with fourth position in the tournament, France finished third in the mega competition.

India seemed to have learnt their lessons from their last match against Germany as they started aggressively and earned their first penalty corner as early as the first minute of the match. But India's attack was brilliantly saved by the opposition custodian behind the goal post. India missed another scoring opportunity in the 12th minute by a whisker when a lightening strike by the hosts hit the bar.  France came back strongly to earn three successive penalty corners in the last minute of the first quarter, but failed to make those count. The first quarter saw a barren finish despite a tough fight between both the sides.

In the second quarter, France continued with the surge from where they had left in the first break and got their fourth penalty corner in the 18th minute. But they missed the opportunity again. They got another penalty corner in the 26th minute. This time skipper Timothee Clement was bang on target to open the account for them. The first half ended 1-0 in favour of France.

France's dominance also continued in the second half and they got as many as five penalty corners in the 34th minute. Clement made the last one count to score his brace and increase the team's lead to 2-0. India showed some intent to get their second penalty corner in the 37th minute only to miss the chance. However, Odia star Sudeep Chirmako scored the first goal for India in the 42nd minute. He flicked a cross from Sunil Jojo through the left flank much to the cheer of the sparse audience at the flood-lit Kalinga Stadium.

In the 47th minute Timothee scored the third goal for his team to take them into an advantageous 3-1position. Thereafter, it seemed all over for the hosts as they tried in vein to reduce the margin only to be thwarted by French defenders.

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