India took the bronze medal thanks to a 2-1 triumph over Germany, but it was fair from straight-forward for the host nation. Germany’s semi-final performance against Australia attracted huge praise on Saturday, going down to a narrow defeat despite having only 13 fit players available due to illness.
With two more players going down over night, Germany found themselves having to face host the home favourites in the bronze medal match with a squad of 11, which included reserve goalkeeper Mark Appel who played as a striker.
It proved to be one of the most remarkable matches of the event, with Germany holding their own against the home favourites for long periods and even went into half time having ten shots at goal in relation to India’s three.
However, it was the Indians who went into half time with the lead thanks to SV Sunil’s excellent finish in the the 21st minute following a fine reaction save from Germany shot-stopper Tobias Walter.
Unbelievably, Germany drew level six minutes into the third quarter from the most unlikely of sources, with reserve goalkeeper Mark Appel lifting it over the onrushing Indian goalkeeper Suraj Karkera and into the net. The strike sparked wild celebrations from Germany’s athletes, all keen to congratulate Appel on his first ever international goal.
Die Honamas continued to remain very much in the game, with both sides missing good chances to win the match before Junior Player of the Match, presented by ONGC Harmanpreet Singh scored the vital goal six minutes from the end of the contest with a powerful low drag-flick to seal the bronze medal. It was another spirited, never-say-die performance from Germany, but in the end proved to be just too much to ask.
But India will be happy to find themselves on the podium, which didn’t appear a likelihood after a draw and two defeats in three pool matches. Marijne, however, refused to take all the credit for his two podium finishes in as many tournaments as India coach. First it was a gold at the Asia Cup and now HWL bronze.
“It’s not about me. I am just the director behind the scenes. We have to raise the bar every time. It’s a nice and good start,” Marijne concluded.