(Catch the Live Updates of India vs Japan, FIH Series Finals semi-finals)
India 7 (Harmanpreet Singh 7, Varun Kumar 14, Ramandeep Singh 23, 37, Hardik Singh 25, Gursahibjit 43, Vivek Sagar Prasad 47) Japan 2 (Kenji Kitazato 2, Kota Watanabe 20)
India have also progressed to the Olympic qualifiers later this year. Finallists South Africa are also through. Good early signs for India under Graham Reid. Tougher challenges await them.
India has been playing free flowing hockey in this tournament so far and has scored 30 goals in four matches. The Japanese showed that the hosts could be put under pressure with good counter attacks but credit to the Indian players showed that they can cope with such pressures.
It will be South Africa tomorrow in the final and the Indians would once again be favourites to dominate the proceedings.
Ramandeep Singh has been named the Man of the Match.
Manpreet Singh at the presentation ceremony: We didn’t expect this scoreline. They really pushed us in the first quarter and got an early goal. But after that we played really well.
The numbers definitely tell the final story. India enjoyed 68% and 66% possession in the third and fourth quarter respectively with 14 and 12 circle penetrations.
FULL TIME: India 7 Japan 2
The Japanese would have heaved a sigh of relief as the final hooter sounded. They kept pace with the hosts in the first half, finding the net twice but the Indians just managed to tighten the noose around the opponent’s goal in the second half and scored three goals more to win the match with a five goal margin.
56th minute: India 7 Japan 2
Japan, however, continue to push forward looking to reduce the margin and earn their fifth penalty corner. They got another one due to the ball hitting a defender’s leg but they failed to convert it as well.
53rd minute: India 7 Japan 2
Japan earns another penalty corner but Sreejesh was up to the challenge kicking the ball away. And their problems are further compounded as Genki Mitani gets a yellow card, which means the Japanese will play the next five minutes with 10 men. Can India increase their lead further now?
While the Indian men’s team is dominating Asian champions Japan in the semi-final, the women will start their campaign in Hiroshima from Sunday. Here is the preview of the tournament as Indian women look to secure a berth in the 2020 Olympic qualifiers.
GOAL: 47th minute: India 7 Japan 2
Vivek Prasad Sagar now gets on the scoreboard as he slaps a reverse hit to score India’s seventh goal.
End of third quarter: India 6 Japan 2
Japan were completely outplayed in this quarter and they were also reduced to nine men at the end of these 15 minutes. India were relentless going ahead and there was very little for the defence to do apart from when Japan managed to piece together a couple of counter attacks.
GOAL! 43rd minute: India 6 Japan 2
Japan had earn their third penalty corner and there were a lot of Japanese players arguing with the umpire for being denied a goal. And India take advantage of the lapse in concentration from the Japanese players to hit them on a counter and Gursahibjit taps in rather easily to extend India’s lead.
42nd minute: India 5 Japan 2
Japanese captain Manabu Yamashita is stretchered off after being hit on the neck by the stick of Ramandeep Singh. He should be back on field soon though.
39th minute: India 5 Japan 2
India failed to convert their 10th penalty corner and Japan comes up with a counter but Pathak stands tall in the goal to thwart the attempt from Koji Yamasaki.
GOAL: 37th minute: India 5 Japan 2
India have been relentless in their attack after the break. They earn their eighth penalty corner. Surendra Kumar opts for a hit. Its not strong enough to beat the goalkeeper but earns them a ninth penalty corner. Manpreet Singh came up with a weak shot but the ball hit a Japanese defenders stick and Ramandeep makes no mistakes on the rebound.
36th minute: India 4 Japan 2
India earns penalty corner number seven after maintaining good pressure. They opt for a indirect variation but Mandeep’s deflection hits goalkeepers pads.
31st minute: India 4 Japan 2
India brink in Krishan Pathak again in goal. It seems coach Reid wants to give the youngster more experience of playing these big matches.
HALF TIME: India 4 Japan 2
Japan tried to press higher at the end of the second game but India managed to hold on and take a two goal lead at half time. It has been a goal riot in the first half. India created many opportunities to score in that half and would possibility be disappointed not to have crossed the half dozen mark. But all in all a solid performance by the Indians.
28th minute: India 4 Japan 2
India seems to be losing focus here and concedes second penalty corner. But Sreejesh shows why he is one of the best in the business and justifies the coach’s decision to put him in at the start of second quarter as he saves a low drag flick to his right.
27th minute: India 4 Japan 2
Japan get their first penalty corner but the Indian defence does well to deny the Asian champions.
GOAL! 25th minute: India 4 Japan 2
It was almost like a straight drive on a cricket field from Hardik Singh after a melee in the Japanese striking circle to give India a 4-2 lead.
GOAL! 23rd minute India 3 Japan 2
Ramandeep Singh puts India ahead with a fine deflection off a pin point pass from Gurinder Singh from the right.
GOAL! 20th minute India 2 Japan 2
Watanabe completes a perfect move from the left for Japan. The Japanese are happy sitting back and hitting India on the counter.
Q2: PR Sreejesh is India’s goalkeeper for the second quarter. Graham Reid has decided to shore things up at the back.
GOAL! 14th minute: India 2 Japan 1
Another excellent PC from India and Varun Kumar puts the hosts in the lead. It was the third PC in a row for Graham Reid side, who now have the lead at the end of the first quarter.
GOAL 7th minute: India 1 Japan 1
And Harmanpreet Singh converts on second attempt. The Japanese goalkeeper got his gloves but Harmanpreet’s drag flick was too strong for him.
7th minute: India 0 Japan 1
India have been launching attacks from both flanks looking for an equaliser. And they earn their first penalty corner. Can Harmanpreet Singh draw level for the hosts?
5th minute: India 0 Japan 1
What a miss for India. The hosts pushed from the middle and Ramandeep Singh gave a straight pass to Gursahibjit Singh inside the circle. He had to just beat the goalkeeper but misses the opportunity.
4th minute: India 0 Japan 1
Neelkanta Sharma creates the first chance for India. He makes space inside the striking circle and unleashes a reverse hit but the goalkeeper saves it
GOAL: 2nd minute: India 0 Japan 1
What a start for Japan. India started by pressing in the very first minute. But Japan finds the goal on the counter with the very first move through Kenji Kitazato and goalkeeper Krishna Pathak was caught flat-footed.
The teams are lining up for the national anthems. India’s Harmanpreet Singh will be making his 100th appearance for the national side today and he would be the key for the hosts when it comes to converting the penalty corners.
Japan’s road to semifinal
Beat Mexico 3-1
Beat South Africa 2-0
Drew with USA 2-2
Beat Poland 6-2 in crossover game
India’s Road to semifinal
Beat Russia 10-0
Beat Poland 3-1
Beat Uzbekistan 10-0
India directly qualified for the semis by virtue of being the group topper.
India should definitely start as favourite in this second round encounter on the basis of the head-to-head record between the two teams since 2013. The hosts have just lost 1 match in six years against the Japanese.
While India and Japan are warming up for their semi-final, South Africa have booked their berth in the Olympic qualifiers with a 2-1 win over USA
Hello and welcome to the live updates of India vs Japan at Bhubaneshwar. The Indians have been top dollar in the three games they played. Russia and Uzbekistan were taken to the cleaners; Indians scored 10 in both games. That the Indian forwards have been magnificent bodes well for the team. A youngster like Gursahibjit Singh has seamlessly slotted into the setup and the experienced lot: skipper Manpreet Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Manpreet Singh and Akashdeep Singh have been at their best.
Graham Reid, though, faces his first big test after taking over the reins from Harendra Singh. Japan are an energetic team who can cause problems to the Indian defence. Hope we have a good game in store.