After a dominant performance against Japan where the Indian Men’s Hockey Team broke little sweat in their 5-1 win to open their campaign at the ongoing Hero Asia Cup 2017 here in Dhaka, the team led by Manpreet Singh will play hosts Bangladesh in their next Pool An encounter on Friday.
Apart from an initial set back when Japan equalized in the fourth minute, India sailed through the match improvising their game hooter to hooter and rarely ever stumbled against the Japanese counterattack. “Yes, we are good with our counter attacks but India just proved to be very fast for us in the end. I was happy with how our boys kept up the first two quarters but India stayed fast-paced through the game and they are a very very fit team,” pointed out Japanese national coach Siegfried Aikman.
On Friday, the Indian team will look to carry forward their sublime form and build on the confidence they have gained from a fine start to the tournament when they take on Bangladesh. “As a coach, I am always critical so I have to say I am not 100 percent happy with how we played. I believe we can do better but this was our first match and now that the team is done with shaking off the initial jitters, I think we can focus on improved performance in the next game,” stated India’s Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne.
The match against Japan saw India’s experienced Sardar Singh play a role as freeman defender. He was commanding in the position, steering the game from the back, giving enough room for defender Harmanpreet Singh to make the long runs in the midfield – which worked well as he assisted forward Lalit Upadhyay with a long scoop that was brilliantly struck into the post earning India’s second goal. “I think Sardar is very good in that position. We have played many practice matches before we came here where he played fullback. He is accurate with his long passes and he can guide the team in the front. This is working well for us,” expressed skipper Manpreet on his compatriot’s role as a freeman defender.
Against Bangladesh, who lost 0-7 against Pakistan in their first match on Wednesday, India will only have to stick to their basics and execute what’s planned. “If we are able to do that (stick to our plans), then I don’t see why we should not win the match,” added a confident Marijne who is at his first major tournament with the Indian men’s team.
Meanwhile, skipper of Bangladesh Rashel Mahmud said that his team will have to be much better against India if they must give the No.1 ranked team in the tournament a tough fight. “We did not play a good match against Pakistan and made a lot of mistakes that led them to score so many goals. It was a bad start but we don’t want to let this loss affect our confidence. We will come back as a better team against India,” he stated after the match against Pakistan.