Indian Men's Hockey Team prepares to challenge defending Champions Japan in Hangzhou

"VAN" (Asian Games Sports Desk - Hangzhou, China - 28.09.2023) :: The Indian Men's Hockey Team has been on a stellar run at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022, having won their first two games with big margins. India defeated Uzbekistan 16-0 in their opening Pool A contest last week, and on Tuesday the side led by Harmanpreet Singh picked up their second consecutive victory, defeating Singapore 16-1.

But now, India will gear up for perhaps their toughest challenge yet in the competition, as they take on the 2018 Asian Games Gold medalist Japan on Thursday.

Speaking of the upcoming match, Indian Men's Hockey Team Captain Harmanpreet Singh, who scored four goals against Singapore, said, "We are aware of the level of competition that we will face tomorrow. Japan have a strong unit and we are familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. We have to focus on our own style of play, but we have to also be ready to switch tactics as and when needed on the field to get a good result."

Japan have also been unbeaten so far in the Games, defeating Bangladesh 7-2 in their first Pool A match, and then followed it up with a 10-1 win over Uzbekistan in their second game.

"Japan have plenty of goalscorers in their team, and hence our defence needs to be strong to tackle their attacking movements," Harmanpreet said, before adding, "We have to constantly be aware of their movements, especially when we are out of possession, so that we can close the gaps on time, and do not allow them to dictate the pace of the game. It will be an interesting contest and we are all ready for it."

India's last meeting against Japan was in the Semi-Final of the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023 last month, which India won 5-0. India also recorded a 1-1 draw against Japan in the same tournament in the Pool match. Since 2013, the two teams have met 26 times, in which India have won 21 times, Japan have won thrice, and two games have ended in a draw.

Indian Men's Hockey Team Vice-Captain Hardik Singh said, "We have played against Japan recently, which gives us confidence going into the match. But at the same time, they have also seen our style of play quite recently, so they will also come up with strategies to counter the same. Hence, we expect it to be a close contest. If we make correct decisions on the field, we will get a positive result from the game."

Indian Men's Hockey Team will next face off against Japan on Thursday, September 28th, 2023 at 1815 hrs IST.


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