Hockey ACT: Confident India starts as big favorite against Japan

Returning to their best after a slow start, defending champion and Olympic bronze medalist India would start as a big favorite against Asian Games winners Japan in the semi-finals of the Trophy men’s hockey tournament. Asian champions here on Tuesday.

Confidence in the Manpreet Singh-led squad must be at their highest as they beat Japan 6-0 in their last round robin match and on Tuesday India would certainly crave another big win in road to the title game.

That said, India will have to be careful not to be complacent, as any mistakes could spoil all of its hard work.

India finished the preliminary round of the top five-nation tournament with 10 points, ahead of Korea (6), Japan (5), Pakistan (5) and Bangladesh (0).

But the start was far from ideal for India. Playing their first tournament after their historic campaign at the Tokyo Olympics, the Indians were held to a 2-2 draw by South Korea in their lung opening before turning the tide with a resounding 9-0 victory over Bangladesh , followed by a 3-1 victory over their rivals. Pakistan and the beating of Japan.

Vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh was a revelation not only at the back but also in the penalty corners, converting two against Japan on Sunday. And, he will certainly pose a great threat to the Japanese.

The Indian midfielder is also brilliantly held by skipper Manpreet and Hardik Singh.

Dilpreet Singh forward Jarmanpreet Singh, Akashjdeep Singh and Shamsher Singh have also shone in the tournament so far, scoring some fine goals on the pitch.

The Indians completely outperformed Japan in all departments of the game in their Championship game and they are also reportedly considering a recall in the semi-finals.

The Japanese will have to raise their level of play by leaps and bounds and play off their own skin to give themselves a chance to register a surprise victory.

Young Suraj Karkera was brilliant under the bar for India, making brilliant saves throughout the tournament while the Indian defense led by Harmanpreet also defended fiercely, saving up to five penalty corners against Japan on Sunday. .

However, the Indian defense will need to be a bit more careful on Tuesday and focus on not taking too many penalty corners which could hurt them as past results don’t matter much in knockout matches.

A slight mistake or lack of focus can derail their campaign and spoil their second straight ACT title. India won the title together with Pakistan at the last edition in Muscat.

Meanwhile, South Korea face Pakistan in the first semi-final on Tuesday.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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