India’s young men’s hockey team produced a spirited performance to beat Japan 1-0 to clinch the Asian Cup bronze medal on Wednesday. After missing out on a place in the title clash on goal difference following a thrilling 4-4 draw against South Korea on Tuesday, defending champions India scored a goal on the pitch through Raj Kumar Pal from the seventh minute of the game and then defended in numbers to seal the deal.
India started brilliantly and pushed hard in the first five minutes of the game, but their attacks failed once inside the D opposition. The Indians, however, broke the deadlock in the seventh minute thanks to a quick counterattack with Uttam Singh doing all the hard work. down the right flank to set it up for Rajkumar Pal, who neatly pushed it past Japan keeper Takashi Yoshikawa.
Three minutes later, the Indians hit two straight penalty corners but wasted both. In the final five minutes of the first quarter, Japan pushed hard in search of the equalizer and staged plenty of raids, but the Indian defense held firm to hold on to their lead.
Trailing by one goal, Japan continued to attack and in the process earned two consecutive penalty corners in the 20th minute, but the Indians defended in numbers to keep their lead intact. Japan and India both had a few more chances in the second quarter, but both teams faltered in the final third.
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Japan came out attacking after the switch and earned two more penalty corners in quick succession, but they failed to break India’s resolute defence.
Between the two, India had a golden chance to extend their lead but Rajkumar fired a pass from SV Sunil from close range.
The Japanese pressed relentlessly on the Indian stronghold in the final two quarters in search of the equaliser, but the Birendra-Lakra stood like a rock to counter their opponents. In the 48th minute, Japan earned three successive penalty corners but were unable to cross the Indian backline.
Japan were awarded another penalty corner in the 51st minute, but the Indian defense once again thwarted the chance. As Japan pressed hard in the remaining minutes, the Indians put on numbers at the back to successfully defend their one-goal lead and secure a place on the podium.
Later in the day, Malaysia and South Korea will face off in the title clash.
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Post expires at 1:02am on Sunday June 12th, 2022