Harmanpreet and Abhishek scored braces for the Men in Blue.
The India Men’s Hockey Team beat Japan 8-0 in the 9th to 16th placing match here in the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela on Thursday in the spectacular Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium. Goals were scored by Mandeep Singh (33′), Abhishek (36′, 44′), Vivek Sagar Prasad (40′), Harmanpreet Singh (46′), Manpreet Singh (59′) and sukhjeet Singh (60′) while the Indian goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak ensured they kept a clean slate.
India will next take on South Africa on 28th January in the 9th to 12th placing match.
Refocusing on the placing match after their disappointing crossover outing against New Zealand, the hosts did well to showcase resurgence. Getting off to a strong start, India used the boisterous support of the home crowd to create fine-scoring opportunities. Akashdeep Singh, Abhishek and Mandeep Singh led the team’s attack in full force but the Japanese defence was relentless, not allowing any early goals.
While the first quarter saw India dominant the attack, Japan did the same at the start of the second quarter. However, India’s defence remained resolute even though the visitors created a couple of PC opportunities. After dominating the ball possession and also entering the circle 16 times, India finally made the breakthrough in the third quarter.
It was a penalty corner attack led by local lad Amit Rohidas taking the dragflick. A fine variation which saw him fiercely strike towards Mandeep Singh who had rushed in to position himself to find a perfect deflection. The opening goal brought much cheer to the home crowd who had turned up in large numbers to watch their favourite hockey stars in action.
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India went on to keep the party alive with three more goals coming in the third quarter. Abhishek, who had made several attempts through his trademark reverse stick in the first quarter, finally found the net in the 36th minute while midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad picked up a brilliant rebound off a dragflick by Harmanpreet Singh to put it past the Japanese goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa. His goal saw India take a considerable 3-0 lead.
By the end of the third quarter, struck another fine field goal taking India’s lead to 4-0. The opening minute of the fourth quarter saw India extend their lead to 5-0 when Captain Harmanpreet Singh scoring from a brilliantly executed penalty corner.
Though Japan tried to make some inroads into the India circle, they couldn’t get the ball past the Indian defence to score. The final few minute saw them defend with all their heart while India continued to push for a few more goals. This time it was Manpreet Singh who did the trick for India, scoring the team’s sixth goal in the 59th minute.
The Skipper Harmanpreet Singh snuck another goal for India in the dying seconds of the match taking the lead to a formidable 7-0. They won another PC after this following a foot foul by Japanese defender, a re-take by Varun Kumar saw them convert their 8th goal. It was Sukhjeet Singh who converted from this variation with about 50 seconds left for the final hooter.
On 28th January, India will take on South Africa in the 9th to 12th placing match at 1900 hrs IST.
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