Image Credits: @HockeyIndia
Defending champions India were defeated 0-2 by reigning Asian Games gold-medallists Japan in their second Pool A match of the Women's Asia Cup hockey tournament on Sunday.
After making a winning start to their campaign at the Women's Asia Cup with a 9-0 win against Malaysia in their first match, the Indian Women's Hockey Team went down 0-2 against Asian Games defending Champions Japan in their second pool A match here on Sunday in Muscat, Oman. Goals were scored by Yuri Nagai (2') and Saki Tanaka (42') that ensure Japan bagged three points from the game.
It was the opening goal scored by Japan in only the second minute of the match that put India on the back foot. Though under pressure, the Indian forwardline pushed for opportunities within the striking circle to bounce back, and even won PCs that could have fetched them an equaliser, they could not convert the chances.
It took some time for India to shake off the nerves from the first quarter and they put up a better display in the second quarter with improvised attack and disciplined structure. While Japan created chances in the 15m mark, the Indian defence held strong to ensure no further goals were scored by the Japanese strikers. Though Indian forwards Navneet Kaur, Sharmila Devi, Lalremsiami and Vandana Katariya took turns to take shots on goals, they could not beat the strong Japanese defence particularly the experienced Japanese goalkeeper Eika Nakamura who came up with some brilliant saves to keep Indians from scoring.
After the ten-minute half-time break, India came back with an intent to overcome the 0-1 setback. While India struggled to nick the ball into the goalpost, despite creating some potential circle penetrations, Japan made no mistake in creating space within the circle for Saki Tanaka to score. The 42nd minute goal put further pressure on India. In the final quarter, a fighting India came back stronger and even earned as many as two PCs. But neither Deep Grace or Gurjit Kaur could net the ball in, thus going down to a 0-2 loss.
On Monday, 24th January, India will take on Singapore at 2030 hours IST in their third Pool A match.