Asian Champions Trophy: India drubs Japan for its third win on a trot

INDIA 9 JAPAN 0

Defending champion India sent out a strong signal of its intent to defend its title as it muscled past Asian Games gold medallist Japan 9-0 in a preliminary league game at the fifth Asian Champions Trophy (ACT), played at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex (SQSC), on Sunday.

A day after outplaying its arch-rival and two-time ACT winner Pakistan 3-1, India seemed to have carried its form against Japan from its Asian Games match in Jakarta in August, when it had recorded a 8-0 win in a pool match.

The wounds of losing out the Asian Games gold are yet to be healed completely for Harendra Singh and his men, but they did get a measure of consolation on Sunday as they steamrolled the Asian Games gold medallist in a stunning fashion.

With the third successive win, India tops the pool standings with a maximum nine points and is followed by Malaysia, which takes on South Korea in its third match on Monday. 

Lalit Upadhyay opened the floodgates with an early strike in the fourth minute and then slammed in one more in the third quarter for a brace.

India finished the first quarter 2-0 after Gurjant Singh sounded the board with a goal in the eighth minute. It was during this goal that Japan’s goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa got injured when he blocked Harmanpreet Singh’s penalty corner shot, only for Gurjant to hit the rebound. The Indian strikers then proved too strong for Japan’s second goalkeeper Yusuke Takano.

Harmanpreet then struck a double, first converting a penalty stroke in the 17th and then slamming in a penalty corner for a 4-0 lead at the break.

Japan, which has left out six of its gold-medal winning players, has brought in a young team and the boys struggled to keep up the tempo against its much-experienced rivals. 

There was no stopping the marauding Indians after the interval as Akashdeep Singh got the fifth and Sumit joined the goal-spree with field goals. Lalit then scored his second to end the third quarter ar 7-0.

Mandeep completed the rout with two late goals in the final quarter for an emphatic win.

India will now take on Malaysia in a key match on Tuesday, hoping to exact its revenge of the Asian Games semifinal loss in a shootout. 

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