The Indian men’s hockey team led by Manpreet Singh will take on Asian Games champions Japan in the semi – finals of the Asian Champions Trophy at the Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium on Tuesday.
The first semi-final will be played at 3 pm Indian time and the second semi-final at 5.30 pm Indian time. At the end of the group stage, India was leading by 10 points.
Korea came in second with 6 points, followed by Pakistan and Japan with 5 and 3 points respectively. India beat Japan 6-0 in the final match of the group stage.
After a 2-2 draw against Korea in their first match of the tournament, defending champions India beat Bangladesh (9-0), Pakistan (3-1) and Japan (6-0) in the final round robin league. The match topped the list, beating Korea, Pakistan and Japan respectively.
Commenting on his assessment of the team’s performance so far in the tournament, India head coach Graham Reed said, “We came out of this tournament with the aim of getting better as we progress to the tournament. We were giving a chance to players who have not played for India for the last two years. For the team, the most important goal was to continue to excel as individuals and as a group.
“Although we did not start well against Korea, we improved our performance in every game. We have to do it again tomorrow, ”he added.
Highlighting the importance of not being satisfied with any opponent, Manpreet said that the team will play with high tempo in the semi-final final against Japan. “This is our first match after winning the Olympics and we never participated in the tournament thinking it would be easier for us. These are all tough teams and I believe they will play with different energy and tempo in the knockout stage, ”said Manpreet.
“We can not underestimate any team and certainly do not underestimate a team like Japan. Although we dominated the last match, I still feel like we gave up a few chances at the end of the match. These are the things we should avoid in an important match like the semifinals. We have to play with good energy and not let the tempo fall at any stage of the match, ”he added.
Manpreet believes that with the selection of Graham Reed, the youngsters have taken this opportunity to shine. “I think young people have made good use of this opportunity. We started with a slump against Korea but we moved on with a great performance. The plan is to maintain this momentum and ensure that there is no firing on Japan in all areas tomorrow, ”he said.
The confidence of the team led by Manpreet Singh should be high as they beat Japan 6-0 in their last round robin match.
That being said, India needs to be wary of indifference as any lubrication will ruin all their hard work.
India finished top of the round-robin stage of the five-nation tournament with 10 points ahead of Korea (6), Japan (5), Pakistan (5) and hosts Bangladesh (0).
But the beginning was not suitable for India. Playing their first tournament since the historic Tokyo Olympics campaign, the Indians held South Korea 2-2. The collapse of Pakistan and Japan.
Vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh scored two goals against Japan on Sunday, a revelation not only from behind but also from penalty corners. Besides, he would definitely pose a big threat to the Japanese.
Captain Manpreet and Hardik Singh make the Indian midfield better.
The likes of Dilpreet Singh, Germanpreet Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Shamsher Singh have also excelled in the tournament so far, scoring some excellent field goals.
In their league match, the Indians completely overtook Japan in all departments of the game and they will look for an encore in the semi-finals as well.
The Japanese will have to jump into their game and play beyond the boundaries, giving them any chance of recording a coup victory.
While saving five penalty corners against Japan on Sunday, the Indian backline led by Harmanpreet also put up a good defense, with youngster Sooraj Karkera shining under the bar for India, making some excellent saves throughout the tournament.
However, the Indian defense should be a little more careful on Tuesday and focus on not conceding more penalty corners, as it may hurt them, as previous results in knockout stage matches do not matter.
A slight slip-up or decrease in concentration will interrupt their campaign and ruin their second consecutive ACT title. India had won the last edition with Pakistan in Muscat.
Meanwhile, South Korea face Pakistan in the first semifinal on Tuesday.