Sublime Team India defeated Japan 8-0 in their first match of the 9-16 classification round at the ongoing FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup here at Birsa Munda Stadium in Rourkela on Thursday.
After playing goalless draws in the first two quarters, Harmanpreet Singh’s team trounced Japan by scoring back-to-back goals in the last two sessions. India will next play South Africa in the 9-12th classification match on Saturday.
Mandeep Singh (32’), Abhishek (35’, 43’), Vivek Sagar Prasad (39’) and Harmanpreet Singh (45’, 58’), Manpreet Singh (58’) and Sukhjeet Singh (59’) scored the goals for India.
Japan held possession in the beginning and created a brilliant opportunity to take the lead. However, Varun Kumar interjected and averted the imminent threat from the corner. India showcased an attacking game and made many attempts to score. However, Japan’s strong defence averted the coming threat and at the end of the first quarter scores were level at 0-0.
In the first few seconds of the second quarter, Japan won a penalty corner but India goalkeeper Krishna Kumar Pathak made a brilliant save. India also bagged a penalty corner but failed to capitalize.
Despite India exchanging many passes, Japan seemed to have possession of ball for more time in the initial part of the game. However, India came up with scoring opportunities later. Lalit Kumar unleashed a shot towards the target but the Japanese goalkeeper made a brilliant save.
Later, Abhishek perfectly dribbled the ball inside Japan’s circle and produced a scoop shot but the goalkeeper stood like a wall and India failed to take a lead.
Mandeep Singh provided Team India with their first breakthrough after he slammed the first goal of the night. Shamsher Singh took a penalty corner, after which Mandeep deviated it towards the target as India take a 1-0 lead. Abhishek gave Team India their second goal shortly after they scored their first. Abhishek scored on a reverse shot after receiving a soft feed inside the circle. Vivek Sagar Prasad also rose to the challenge and took two touches before taking a stunning shot toward the goal from an India penalty corner. The goalkeeper failed to stop the ball.
Abhishek scored once more as Team India took 4-0 lead. Abhishek made a wonderful try with a reverse stick and neatly placed the ball in the net after failing to take advantage of the penalty corner.
Within the first few seconds of the fourth quarter, skipper Harmanpreet Singh joined the party and register his first goal of the night. India received a penalty corner and Harmanpreet unleashed a drag-flick as India took a 5-0 lead over Japan. Manpreet Singh then netted a stunning goal for Team India in the last few minutes of the match. India took 6-0 lead against Japan. Harmanpreet struck again as Team India took a 7-0 lead over Japan and Sukhjeet Singh took the margin to 8-0.