The Indian men’s hockey team begins its 2016 Asian Champions Trophy against Japan today in Kuantan District, Malaysia. This will be the men’s team’s first major tournament after the 2016 Rio Olympics, where they were unable to win medal. Though India were not able to win a medal in Rio de Janeiro, the graph and performance of the team has certainly been upward one. This tournament features defending champions Pakistan, China, Japan, South Korea and hosts Malaysia other than India and the Men in Blue would be aiming for nothing less than winning the trophy.
This tournament has not been conducted since two years but the FIH's decision to make it a part of the qualification system ensures that there will be a lot at stake during the competition. In a lot of ways, there is going to be a lot of pressure on the Indian team to win the Asian Champions Trophy, given the fact they current Asian gold medalists and the highest ranked team in continent.
India will be led by charismatic goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and he will play a huge role, both in goal and inspiring the team. Rupinder Pal Singh is going to play an important role in defence while Sardar Singh will be the spine of the midfield. An ouster in the quarter-final of the 2016 Rio Olympics suggested that a lot was needed to be done by the Indian team to reach at the top.
Japan, who are ranked 16th in the world, are going to start this game as underdogs against their more illustrious opponents. Coach Takahiko will be looking to incentivise Japan’s performance in the Champions Trophy, given that the outcome of the tournament will affect qualifications to the 2020 Olympics, which are going to be held in Tokyo. From a tactical point of view, Japan would want to take advantage of India’s defensive weakness and their penchant for making goal-conceding errors.
Match Prediction: India 3-0 Japan
India: Goalkeepers – P.R Sreejesh (Captain), Akash Chikte; Defenders – Rupinder Pal Singh (Vice-Captain), Pardeep Mor, Jasjit Singh Kular, Birendra Lakra,Kothajit Singh,Surender Kumar; Midfielders – Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Ramandeep, Sardar Singh, S.K Uthappa, Devindar Walmiki; Forwards -Talwinder Singh, Akashdeep, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Affan Yousuf
Japan: Masahito Kunitomo, Takumi Chida, Daichi Kurokawa, Masaki Ohashi, Shota Yamada, Hirotaka Zendana, Kenji Kitazato, Kazuma Murata, Suguru Hoshi, Seren Tanaka, Hiromasa Ochiai, Tsubasa Yamamizu, Yuki Wakuri, Hiroki Sakamoto, Kenta Tanaka, Genki Mitsutani, Kentaro Fukuda and Kodai Watanabe.
Venue: Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium, Kuantan, Malaysia
Time: 18:00 IST
Live telecast: Star Sports 4, Star Sports HD4, HotstarPublished 20 Oct 2016, 13:27 IST