India are in danger of facing an early exit from Hockey Asia Cup 2022 after losing to defending champions Japan 2-5 in their second Pool A match in Jakarta on Tuesday, May 24. Pawan Rajbhar and Uttam Singh’s goals were not enough as India were outclassed by the favourites.
After being held to a 1-1 draw by Pakistan and their loss to Japan, India might not be able to qualify for the second round where only the top 2 teams from the two Pools make it to the next round. India face Indonesia in their final Pool A match on Thursday, May 24.
Pakistan went from strength to strength as they hammered Indonesia 13-0 on Tuesday, breaking the hearts of the home fans.
Japan are in the top spot of Pool A with 6 points while Pakistan are in the 2nd spot with 4 points and a huge difference in goals forward after their decimation of Indonesia.
Japan rode on a double from Kosei Kawabe and goals from Ken Nagayoshi, Ryomi Ooka and Koji Yamasaki to win their 2nd successive match in the tournament.
the younger crop of players didn’t measure up against the Japanese, who looked more organised and hit India repeatedly on the counters.
Full Time! India put in a valiant effort but was defeated by Japan by three goals in today’s Hero Asia Cup in Jakarta, hoping for a better game in the upcoming matches.
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) May 24, 2022
Birendra Lakra and SV Sunil, the two seniors in the Indian side looked well past their prime and couldn’t make any tangible difference with their performances.
Lakra rued the lack of defensive discipline in the final quarter and the slow start as India lacked the firepower to test Japan.
“First two quarters were very tough because we didn’t get into any rhythm. We got better in the last two quarters but didn’t create many chances,” said Lakra, the India captain.
“In the final quarter, we lost our defensive structure and conceded a couple of goals. Also we lost two men and that had an effect,” Lakra added.
The final quarter was a closely-fought affair as India were down 1-3 before they showed some grit and determination
However, India got one back when Rajbhar sent a cross from right, and forward Uttam Singh tapped it in from close range to make it 2-3.
But there was more bad luck for India as they suddenly lost the numerical advantage with temporary suspensions of Rajbhar and Karthi. The nine versus eleven became a lopsided contest as Japan repeatedly used the right flank to launch their attack.