The Men in Blue can finish as high as the ninth-best team in the tournament.
Once again in a big event, the Indian hockey team failed to live up to the expectations. New Zealand ended the dream of billions in a shootout victory against India in Crossovers. Since the 1975 Championship win, India has failed to register themselves among the top four in Hockey World Cup. Fans are disappointed and now India is set to face Asian Games Champion Japan.
This game holds so much importance for the host India. If they lose against Japan, they will be playing in the worst possible place 13-16 which will be the worst ever for the one-time champion and host India. In the history books, India’s worst-ever positioning is 14th place in the 1986 World Cup in London.
Campaign of setbacks
India started their campaign well against Spain and then played a hard-fought draw against England. Since then Hardik Singh’s injury and Harmanpreet and Mandeeps’s form played their part in the Indian team’s campaign. India managed to win by 4-2 against Wales and missed out on Penalty Shootout against Blacksticks. The game against Wales was a backup call yet India’s defence was caught sleeping after England’s game. They need to be in their top game against Asian Games Champion Japan. If Japan managed to strike a few early goals, the worst case possible will be looming large on Team India. After winning a medal in the Olympics, fans have come back to India’s old glorious game. A big setback again may push them back again.
India has been in dominating position against Japan whenever these two teams have taken on each other. India’s stats look better on paper against Japan. Yet India’s game in the previous two games has brought some wrinkled faces among the followers and team management. Coach Graham Reid was also worried about India’s performance against Wales. Even after having a dominating record against Japan, the Indian camp looks a little worried.
Overall Head to Head record, India vs Japan
India Wins: 81
Japan Wins: 06
India vs Japan in Hockey World Cup
India Wins: 1
Japan Wins: 0
India vs Japan in the last three games
India Wins: 2
Japan Wins: 1
India in Hockey World Cup
Japan in Hockey World Cup