As an opener at the Asia Cup hockey tournament, Marijne men steamrolled the Japanese team with a score of 5-1, for a strong emphatic starter on Wednesday. Henceforth taking a step closer to India’s dream of holding up the Asia Cup.
It was India’s first tournament under the eyes of newly-appointed coach Marijne Sjoerd, a tester for the coach. For Marijne, it wasn’t easy to fill in the shoes of ex-coach Roelant Oltmans and he was expected to rejuvenate a side that was only recently sliding dangerously towards under performance. Gladly enough, the Indian men got off the blocks in the third minute when S.V. Sunil, after a fine one-two with Akashdeep Singh, pushed the ball into an open net. Within a minute, India faced a hiccup when Japan equalised with a strike from Kenji Kitazato at the very fourth minute.
Taking that as a challenge, but yet going easy, both teams pressed hard, rotated the ball around both the flanks for a few minutes. The Indians exploited every single bit of space given by the Japanese and utilised the wings to perfection to set up the attacks. At the 22nd minute, a perfect scoop shot from Harmanpreet helped Lalit inside the ‘D’ to strike a clean goal with a reverse shot. Gaining confidence with the lead yet staying away from being overwhelmed, it was a bonanza for the Indian team in the second half and hosed away the Japanese team with a score of 5-1 as the final bell rang.
In hockey, the opening match is often seen as pivotal for the team and most of the times, it defines the way any team would perform. Being one of the top-ranked teams in the Asia Cup, India certainly has glary eyes on the trophy, which will prove its hockey supremacy in Asia. By winning the Asia Cup hockey tournament, the team will get a step closer to fulfilling the Indian dream of becoming world’s no. 1 by 2020.