After a painful defeat against New Zealand in the last match, Indian Men’s Hockey Team finally bounced back in the final round-robin clash against the hosting team Japan. Ace Indian players outclassed strong Japanese opponents with the great margin of 6-3 in the third encounter of Olympics Test Event at the Oi Hockey Stadium on Tuesday.
Young Indian midfielder Nilakanta Sharma gave his team a head start at the beginning of the game with an excellent field goal in first three minutes. This was followed by another brilliant shot through Gurjant Singh which unfortunately went far from the goal post. India the got another golden chance to double their lead through a penalty corner and that time the visitors made no mistake as Nilam Sanjeep Xess smashed a goal to give his team 2-0 lead at the seventh minute. As a result of this, Japanese players came under immense pressure and accumulated their efforts to sound with an opener on the scoreboard. But the in-form Indian men didn’t miss any chance to strike a goal against Japan and after a few minutes later star forward Mandeep Singh gave his side a 3-0 lead with a brilliant hit. This was the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter also Indian boys continued their attacking game against Japan. The talented skipper of the team Harmanpreet Singh then came forward to play a shot towards the net but it was miraculously saved by experienced opponent goalie Takashi Yoshikawa. After so many obstacles, Japan finally managed to score the opener with the help of brilliant player Kentaro Fukuda at 25th minute. In reply to this, Mandeep came like a storm and picked up two quick successions in order to lead his squad by 5-1 scoreline.
However, in the third quarter, Japan started very aggressively and tried hard to put pressure on India’s defensive team with a second goal at 36th minute by Kenta Tanaka. But Indian men didn’t lose their calm and continue their game with the same strategy. As a result, the World No. 5 squad netted the sixth goal at 41st minute to lead the scoreboard by 6-2.
Japan kept on fighting till their last breath in the game and their ‘not giving up’ spirit awarded them a last-minute goal through Kazuma Murata. But it was too late at that time as India already ensured their place in the finals of the grand tournament. India will next meet New Zealand in the finals scheduled to be played on Wednesday at Oi Hockey Stadium.