Indian hockey team skipper Birendra Lakra rued was left to rue missed opportunities as his young Indian side were beaten 2-5 by a strong Japanese team in an Asia Cup league match on Tuesday.
The Asia Cup, a World Cup qualifier tournament, has a lot at stake for all participating teams. India, by virtue of being the hosts, have already qualified for the World Cup.
Kosei Kawabe (40', 56'), Ken Nagayoshi (24'), Ooka Ryoma (49') and Koji Yamasaki (55') scored for Japan while Pawan Rajbhar (45') and Uttam Singh (50') scored for India.
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Following the match, Indian skipper Birendra Lakra said the first two quarters were challenging. The Indian team looked off-color in the first two quarters and gave their opponents enough time and space to assert their supremacy. Lakra said:
"The players made up in the third and fourth quarters. Overall we couldn't avail the opportunities that came our way."
The Indian skipper also said the green card for a rough tackle also made India's work tougher. He added:
"There was a bit of extra work as we played with less number of players in the second half of the match as we got a green card due to rough tackle."
Japan superior to India in all departments in Asia Cup match
The win on Tuesday enabled the Japanese to inch closer to a World Cup qualification. Poor trapping and the Indian team holding the ball too long allowed Japan space to exploit the situation as they raced to a 2-0 lead in the third quarter.
The focus was once again back on India's penalty corner conversion as they failed to capitalize on their opportunities while the Japanese converted one out of the four chances.
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Japan had a superior ball possession for a major part of the contest. They also had the upper hand when it came to circle penetration. Japan made 18 forays into the Indian circle while India could only get into Japan's circle 16 times.
India will next play Indonesia while Japan will face Pakistan in their next Asia Cup league stage encounters.
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