The Hero Asia Cup is scheduled to take place from 11th October to 22nd October. Kicking off the proceedings is India, who is set to face Japan in the opening match. India and Japan are in Pool A along with Pakistan and Bangladesh. The tournament is taking place in Bangladesh and the stakes are high. In a sense, the winner of the Hero Asia Cup will secure automatic qualification for the 2018 World Cup in India.
The Indian team come into this match and the tournament as the favourites. But they cannot afford to be complacent as they also have the home team and Pakistan in the pool. Skipper Manpreet Singh in a recent interview said, “The opening match of the tournament is always challenging because we need to get over the early nervousness and find our rhythm. We have had two good practice sessions on the main pitch and even played a practice match against Oman. The team is upbeat and ready for the first challenge.”
According to the Asia Cup Hockey 2017 schedule, after Japan, they will face the hosts Bangladesh and finally Pakistan. India last faced Japan in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, where they defeated them 4-3.
Harmanpreet Singh, Akash Chikte, Surender Kumar, Manpreet Singh (capt.), Sardar Singh, Gurjant Singh, Dipsan Tirkey, Suraj Karkera, Lalit Upadhyay, Uthappa Sannuvanda, Sumit, Amit Rohidas, Varun Kumar, Sunil Sowmarpet, Satbir Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Chinglensana Kangujam and Ramandeep Singh
India’s defence line-up saw an experienced Kothajit Singh missing out due to an injury. “But we are now joined by Amit Rohidas who has just returned from a good outing at the Australian Hockey League and he did well during India’s tour of Belgium and Holland so we don’t see Kothajit’s absence as a setback,” explained Manpreet.
Japanese National Coach Siegfried Aikman was of the opinion that every team stands a chance to make the final in this tournament. He said, “It’s a major tournament which gives us the opportunity to play at the highest level. The World Cup qualifier makes it even more challenging for us but reality learns that we need to know our place in the ranking.
"We stand for a huge challenge to compete with outstanding teams in our group. However, this is sports and in sports its always possible to flip the script. So, let’s wait and see”.
The Dutchman believes that India has the most to lose since they are the highest ranked team. Any country could spring a surprise.
Koji Yamasaki, Shota Yamada, Miyu Tanimitsu, Genki Mitani, Seren Tanaka, Hiromasa Ochiai, Kazuma Murata, Suguru Hoshi, Kenta Tanaka, Kenji Kitazato, Heita Yoshihara, Manabu Yamashita, Kaito Tanaka, Kota Watanabe, Tsubasa Yamamizu, Masaki Ohashi, Takashi Yoshikawa, Suguru Shimmoto