India’s Quest For Redemption: Semifinal Clash Against Japan In Asian Champions Trophy

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Chennai, 11th August 2023: India’s objective for the upcoming Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament semifinal clash against Japan centres around sustaining their intensity throughout the entire 60-minute game while ensuring consistent execution in their finishing. Given their flawless record in the round-robin phase – triumphing in four matches and drawing one to secure the top spot on the points table – India naturally assumes the role of favourites.

Nevertheless, India remains cautious of Japan, the sole team they haven’t managed to conquer thus far. The initial encounter between the two teams concluded in a 1-1 draw during the league phase. Despite the considerable disparity in world rankings – with India occupying the fourth spot and Japan trailing at 19th – the host nation must bear in mind their past defeat to Japan in the 2021 edition’s semifinals in Dhaka. This defeat followed a resounding 6-0 victory over Japan in the league phase.

In the ongoing tournament, India has notched up the highest tally of goals, an impressive 20. However, their inability to capitalize on numerous opportunities against Japan in their previous league encounter necessitates rectifying their poor finishing in the upcoming match.

During their previous match against Japan, Craig Fulton’s team was able to convert just one out of the 15 earned penalty corners. Consequently, their focus is now directed towards improving penalty corner conversion rates.

In light of India’s commanding 4-0 win over arch-rivals Pakistan, Fulton stressed the importance of consistent performance across all four quarters. He emphasized maintaining the same level of consistency displayed against Pakistan and Japan, with particular attention to increased circle penetration.

Hardik Singh, India’s vice-captain and midfielder, echoed Fulton’s sentiments, underscoring the significance of patience within the opponent’s penalty area. He emphasized the need to control the tempo of the game and regarded Japan as a formidable adversary.

Japan secured a spot in the semifinals ahead of Pakistan due to a superior goal difference, despite both teams amassing five points each. Japan’s overall performance in the competition has been less than convincing, with just one win against China and two draws.

While India stands as the favoured team for the impending clash, Japan aims to draw inspiration from their previous performance against the hosts. Japan’s defence, notably their adept handling of Indian attackers during penalty corners, has been commendable. However, their offensive lineup has been lacking.

In the build-up to the India vs. Japan match, Malaysia, positioned second, will face off against third-placed defending champions South Korea in the other semifinal. While Korea’s performance has been unremarkable, Malaysia’s impressive record in the competition – securing four victories and suffering only one defeat – positions them as favourites against Korea.