FIH Series Finals: India tame Japan to enter Olympic qualifiers

BHUBANESWAR: India's Friday night time began with a frustrating stutter but it resulted in cruise mode because the hosts of the FIH Series Finals here tick-marked their primary objective of securing a place in the year-end Olympic qualifiers with a comfy 7-2 win over Japan in the semi-final.

Coach Graham Reid's boys will meet South Africa in the final on Saturday, after the Africans defeated USA 2-1 in the different semi-final that ended with an exhilarating last-minute winner to take Tim Drummond's group via to the Olympic qualifiers as neatly.

The best two finishers from this tournament sign up for 12 others for the 14-team Olympic qualifiers in October-November this yr.

India's dreaded second got here as early as the second one minute when Kenji Kitazato discovered himself at the end of a neat cross-pitch hit to catch the Indian defence and goalkeeper Krishan Pathak snoozing.

But Harmanpreet Singh in the 7th minute and Varun in the 14th converted two penalty corners to lend a hand the Indian bench breathe easy prior to the tip of first quarter.

The Asian Games champions and Tokyo 2020 hosts got here out of the quarter ruin in spirited style to attract stage via Kota Watanabe in the 20th minute. But that was their final second of high-fives.

India upped the ante and looked extra assertive in many of the final 45 minutes, thanks to a brace by Ramandeep Singh (23rd and 37th) and targets from Hardik Singh (25th), Gursahibjit Singh (43rd) and Vivek Sagar Prasad (47th).

Off the 10 penalty corners earned, India converted simplest three. The success fee, thus, still left a lot of scope for development.

Japan had been additionally at the receiving end of injuries, with two in their avid gamers -- Manabu Yamashita and Yoshiki Kirishita -- stretchered off the pitch. That was after they had lost Raiki Fujishima because of sickness prior to the fit.

"Injuries happen. India played a mature game. Hit the ball, were more physical. But it should be like that. We have to deal with it. Our players are not used to this kind of physicality. We were a bit soft," stated Japan caoch Siegfried Aikman.

India had added a cushion prior to the half-time ruin, leading 4-2, after which pumped in a couple extra in the next 15 minutes to surge 6-2 forward. Prasad joined the listing of India's goal-scorers in the final quarter to seal the scoreline.

The Japanese group switched goalkeepers at half-time but it was to no avail once the Indian forwards discovered their mojo.

"I think it's the first game where I was almost satisfied," stated India's trainer Graham Reid.

But Reid additionally admitted that they didn't make the perfect start, with Japan scoring first, as early as the second one minute.

"The idea was to start better than what we did. Giving away a goal is always difficult...(But) You should always be trying to find things to get better at," the Australian added.

It was Harmanpreet's 100th appearance for India. Incidentally, both his debut back in 2015 and the centenary recreation on Friday got here in opposition to Japan here at the Kalinga Stadium.

"The team gave me a nice gift with a win," Harmanpreet stated. "Our mindset was always to put in full effort. We came back well."

The final starts at 1915 IST on Saturday, preceded by the third-place fit between USA and Japan at 1700 IST.
FIH Series Finals: India tame Japan to enter Olympic qualifiers FIH Series Finals: India tame Japan to enter Olympic qualifiers Reviewed by Kailash on June 15, 2019 Rating: 5
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