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Olympics 2021: India vs Japan men's hockey preview & prediction

The Indian strikers cna showcase their skills against Japan Image Ctsy: Hockey India
The Indian strikers cna showcase their skills against Japan Image Ctsy: Hockey India
FEATURED COLUMNIST

Assured of a quarterfinal place, India's men's hockey team will take on Japan in their last group match at the Tokyo Olympics.

With nine points from four matches, the Indians are now placed behind Australia in Group A. The placings are unlikely to change, with both teams expected to win their final matches.

Even if either team - or both - were to lose their final group matches against Spain and Japan, they would continue to occupy the top two positions.

The Indians would like nothing more than to use the match against the hosts to try a few innovative strategies and iron out the flaws ahead of the all-important quarterfinals scheduled for Sunday, August 1.

Siegfried Aikman's side showed their class by winning gold at the Asian Games in Jakarta but do not have an encouraging record against India.

The Indians got past Japan in a group match at the 2018 Asian Games and twice during the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy.

The Indians are assured of a top-two finish Image Ctsy: Hockey India
The Indians are assured of a top-two finish Image Ctsy: Hockey India

The Men in Blue continued to assert their continental supremacy by beating Aikman's side in the 2019 Azlan Shah Cup and again during the 2019 FIH Series Finals. The Indians will start as the overwhelming favorites on Friday.

The Japanese have yet to win a match in Tokyo and will give the Indians a fight for their money while Graham Reid's boys would want to sustain the winning momentum.

The Indians are yet to ascertain who their quarterfinal opponents will be as the top teams in Group B continue to be as close as ever one day before the group matches conclude.

Belgium will finish as the undisputed table toppers in Group B with 12 points from four matches thus far, while the Netherlands and Great Britain, who have also qualified for the quarterfinals, are tied on 7 points each.

Germany with 6 points from four games will face the Netherlands while Belgium take on Great Britain on Friday.

For now, the Indians have a golden opportunity to showcase their famed stick skills while also using the high-level contest as a preparatory for the knock-outs.

The match begins at 1500 IST.


FIH Rankings:

India - 4

Japan - 15


Prediction:

The Japanese would like nothing better than to finish their Olympic campaign with a win and the Indians won't hold back either. Expect an entertaining contest with riveting end-to-end action.

Score Prediction:

India 5 - Japan 1


Edited by SANJAY K K
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