Pawan Rajbhar and Uttam Singh score for India
India suffered a major setback as it lost 22-5 to Japan in the Hero Asia Cup Hockey Tournament at Jakarta on Tuesday. India remains at number three position in the pool with just one point while Japan moved to the top with maximum six points from two games.
Jakarta is happy hunting ground for Japan as it had won its maiden Asian Games title here in 2018.
India brought in its experimental team to defend its Asia Cup title. It started with a 1-1 draw against its arch-rival and joint defending champions Pakistan.
Kosei Kawabe (40′, 56′) struck a brace, while Ken Nagayoshi (24′), Ryoma Ooka (49′) and Koji Yamasaki (54′) were the other goal-scorers for Japan in the Pool A match. Pawan Rajbhar (45′) and Uttam Singh (50′), scored for India.
Japan started putting the pressure on the young Indian team from the starting whistle of the match. In the 5th minute, Karthi Selvam struck a reverse hit inside the Japan circle to create an early opportunity for his team. But SV Sunil could not make contact on the ball in front of the goal and the opportunity was missed. Japan got its first penalty corner in the 11th minute, while Indian goalkeeper Suraj Karkera made an excellent save to deny Japan the lead..
Ken Nagayoshi scored the first goal for Japan from a drag flick in the 24th minute after India conceded back-to-back penalty corners. Trailing 0-1 at halftime, India started brightly in the third Quarter as Uttam Singh received a chance inside the circle to get his team level. But he was unable to trap the ball and the opportunity was missed.
Japan started counter-attacking straightaway as India started getting back into the game. Kosei Kawabe doubled his team’s lead in the 40th minute with a shot past the young Indian defence. In the final minute of the third quarter, Pawan Raj Bhar deflected the ball into the nets after receiving a pass from Birendra Lakra, as India reduced the deficit to 1-2.
Ryoma Ooka scored four minutes into the final quarter, but Uttam Singh managed to get one for India straightaway in the next minute to keep India in the hunt. Late goals from Koji Yamasaki and Kosei Kawabe sealed the deal for Japan as it won the match 5-2.
India will play its last pool game against Indonesia on Thursday.