India inch closer to semis with convincing win over Japan in Asiad hockey
y Amanpreet Singh
(Eds: Updating with quotes)
Jakarta, Aug 24 (PTI) Defending champions India continued their goal-scoring spree and spanked Japan 80 to register their third consecutive win in the men's hockey competition at the Asian Games, here today.
The holders have so far scored 51 goals in three matches after demolishing Indonesia 17-0 and registering a record 26-0 win over Hong Kong China in their previous two Pool A games.
Drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh (17th, 37th minutes) and Mandeep Singh (32nd, 56th) struck twice while SV Sunil (7th), Dilpreet Singh (12th), Akashdeep Singh (45th) and Vivek Sagar Prasad (47th) also registered their names in the score sheet.
India conceded only one penalty corner in the 48th minute of the match but Japan, ranked 16th, wasted the opportunity.
World no. 5 India will next play Korea, ranked 14th, on Sunday before completing their pool engagement against Sri Lanka.
"I am not happy with the scoreline. We missed a lot of chances and that is not acceptable in a tournament like this," said India's chief coach Harendra Singh.
Rupinder, who has been scoring consistently in this tournament after making a comeback from a hamstring injury, said he was pleased with the way he was shaping up for the big matches ahead.
"The injury part was disappointing. I just returned a month back after rehab. I feel strong, the coaches and the teammates have helped. Scoring gives me confidence and it will surely help in bigger matches," said the drag-flicker.
Rupinder said they used the match as an opportunity to fine-tune their basics and found out that there was still "room for improvement."
"There were a lot of mistakes. The mentality is to score (heavy) in each game. We are fitter and we are working on speed," he said.
India started on a bright note and attacked the Japanese goal in numbers from the onset.
India's first charge came as early as the second minute but Dilpreet's deflection from a Surender Kumar's cross went wide.
The defending champions though did not have to wait much to get on board as
Akashdeep fed Sunil with a reverse hit pass and the experienced striker easily found the back of the net.
Then Dilpreet, waiting in front of the goal post, sent the ball in with a fierce reverse hit to double the lead, five minutes later.
The Indian team missed out on converting a penalty corner before Japan made its first real attempt but could not execute. It was Kenta Tanaka, who fired one in from the right but an alert Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh blocked the shot.
Going into the second quarter, India had a 2-0 cushion and it became 3-0 when Rupinder converted a penalty corer in the 17th minute.
Japan kept fighting and foiled India's two more attempts thereafter.
India missed out on a penalty corner chance early in the third quarter but two minutes after the change of ends Amit Rohidas set it up for Mandeep, who pushed the ball in from close range past the Japanese goalie Takashi Yoshikawa to make it 4-0.
India got a penalty stroke when Vivek was obstructed inside the circle by a Japanese defender and Rupinder made no mistake in converting from the spot as India took a commanding 5-0 lead.
India kept Japan under the pump, earning their fifth penalty corner soon but failed to convert as Rupinder's flick was blocked by the Japanese custodian.
Akashdeep, Vivek and Mandeep later added to India's tally with field strikes in the final quarter