• Tuesday, March 05, 2024

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Hockey: India to take on Japan in semi-final

India yet to defeat Japan in the tournament

India’s Harmanpreet Singh (L) celebrates after scoring India’s second goal during the Asian Champions Trophy 2023 hockey tournament match against Pakistan at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium in Chennai on August 9, 2023. (Photo by SATISH BABU/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

INDIA will start as favourites against Japan in the Asian Champions Trophy 2023 semi-final in Chennai on Friday (11).

Japan is the only team India yet to defeat in the tournament. The league match between the two teams resulted in a 1-1 tie.

India is in fourth place in global rankings, whereas Japan in 19th.

Japan advanced to the last four over Pakistan due to greater goal difference. It was heartbreak for Pakistan as they crashed out of the tournament despite finishing on equal five points with Korea and Japan.

Skipper Harmanpreet Singh scored twice as a dominant India beat arch-rivals Pakistan comprehensively by a 4-0 margin in their final round-robin league match on Wednesday (9) to enter the semi-finals.

Harmanpreet (15th, 23rd minutes) converted two penalty corners, while Jugraj Singh (36th) netted from another set piece. India’s final goal came from the sticks of Akashdeep Singh from a field play in the 55th minute.

The result meant India topped the standings with 13 points from four wins and one draw. Pakistan needed at least a draw or a one-goal defeat to make it to the semifinals.

During the match, Pakistan showed the early sparks by getting into the Indian circle on quite a few occasions. But the Indian defence held its composure to not allow any inroads to its neighbours.

Pakistan had the first shy at the goal in the form of penalty corner which was brilliantly saved by Indian goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak.

After three Indian attacking attempts from Karthi Selvam, Jarmanpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh, Pakistan appealed for a penalty corner in the ninth minute, but the video referee ruled it against the Men in Green.

India led Pakistan 2-0 at half-time. The Pakistanis struggled to attack and keep the ball in possession as the Indians continued to attack until the final minute.

India earned five penalty corners in the match and converted three out of them.

(with inputs from PTI)

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