Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2019: Sluggish India get job carried out in opposition to defensive Japan, however harder challenges lie forward

Despite a sluggish begin, a defence that at instances bordered on the reckless and a ahead line that slo0wly arose from a deep slumber, India used the alternatives to get previous Asian Games champion Japan 2-Zero to start their 2019 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup marketing campaign with a win. For the Blues, it was their first win of the yr; a begin that many hope winds up with a 2020 Olympic spot. Yet, if this show is any pointer, coaches and analysts must be apprehensive. India are with out a few of their stalwarts. But the replacements aren’t any rookies. Getting the group settled took a lot of three quarters earlier than the sails caught some wind and confirmed the talent that followers do at instances get delirious about.

Japan operated with a decent defence. They had no selection. Except for the final match on the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat which resulted in a decent 3-2 in India’s favour, those earlier than that had rating traces of 9-0, 8-0, 4-2 and 6-0. Siegfried Aikam, the Japanese coach is a big fan of Indian expertise. At the identical time, he’s acknowledged as a grasp tactician. Just luck will not take you all the way in which to the Asian Games gold.

India want to boost their sport, stage of subtlety, present extra menace up entrance, create mixtures and reveal an all-round sport plan. Twitter @TheHockeyIndia

At instances, Japan had six gamers on the again, all proficient in man-to-man marking. So tight was the marking within the first two quarters that Shilanand Lakra, Sumit Kumar, Gursahibjit Singh and Mandeep Singh could not penetrate. If they’d the ball, there was no area. Gursahib learnt what hockey is at this stage. He feinted, twisted, ran huge, saved the ball again however the Japanese did not commit. They waited and waited earlier than plucking the ball away. If Japan have learnt to defend, India could not showcase their expertise, that at instances must be described with only one phrase – elegant.

Lots must be carried out within the midfield. Yes, it was the primary match of the match and the primary of the yr and nobody desires to be harsh. But if trapping, passing, giving turn-overs was of an novice stage, then absolutely individuals must be apprehensive. After all, India is identical group that scored 20 objectives within the final 5 matches. And, Saturday was a wrestle.

Territorial supremacy is at instances an phantasm. After the match, Aikman mentioned, “It’s always about using the opportunities. I believe we had the better ones. But India won.”

The first quarter did promise a lot. Vivek Sagar confirmed sufficient enterprise to as soon as once more elevate the query of why he was omitted from the World Cup facet. He was on each the flanks, sprinting round like a hare injected with rocket gasoline. His efficiency fell within the second however he got here again into the match within the third and fourth quarter. Nilakanta Sharma had the ball and the area however could not do a lot. In reality, within the third quarter, India behaved like a charitable organisation giving freely turnovers. A greater-organised group would have punished India. Japan could not utilise area so intent have been they on defence. Just two penalty corners for India exhibits Japan’s over-reliance on packing the back-line.

Maybe, issues might have been totally different if Aikman’s boys had performed full press, shifting in from the flanks. But the thoughts is a wierd creature. Psychologically, India weighed Japan down. Fluency is curtailed just because the midfield refused to maneuver up entrance in case an Indian counter-attack caught them napping. Creating a defensive wall appeared to be the one reply for Japan. Patience most likely was then tactic for India. They did not press too laborious and neither did they go lax. In the Indian defence, Surender Kumar once more stood out. Varun Kumar, aside from scoring the opening purpose, additionally saved the second Japanese penalty nook on the road. Lakra appeared jittery, giving freely the ball fairly a couple of instances whereas Gurinder appeared wayward as stage. Sreejesh made a few good saves. Kazumo Murata had a stinging reverse hit stopped by Sreejesh. An early Japanese strike may need put India underneath strain. India performed each Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak, in alternate quarters.

In the third and fourth quarter, Japan wanted a strike to try to put strain on India. Genki Mitani had some fantastic runs placing the Indian midfield and defence underneath some critical strain. On the breaks, Mandeep missed a reverse hit whereas Sumit Kumar largely ran away from the Japanese purpose. It wasn’t as if Shilanand, Sumit or Gursahibjit all of the sudden misplaced their talent. They appeared misplaced, out of place and completely at sea to have the ability to perceive what the midfield was attempting to create. A coach’s voice must be of their ears.

The match got here alive within the fourth quarter with high quality strikes, tempo, fast-paced flank play and a few quick, decisive defensive work. Sumit Kumar discovered himself in the course of the circle and did attempt with a deft reverse deflection however the Japanese goalkeeper saved. Shilanand discovered area however saved going until he misplaced the ball. In all this Sumit Kumar additionally discovered time to get a inexperienced card.

In the 55th minute got here the transfer that makes this sport such pleasant viewing. Japan made the error of giving Vivek area on the left flank and the diminutive midfielder overlapped and sprinted away. It was a transfer of pure, easy, two touches, the sort you’ll discover in a hockey talent handbook. Just when one thought that Vivek had over-played the ball, he pulled out a reverse hit, inches away from the touchline that discovered the stick of Simranjeet Singh, the deflection rising excessive into the web. At 2-0, the Japanese knew the match was gone. In the dying minutes, Japan had their 2nd penalty nook. Varun saved on the road thus successfully giving himself the man-of-the-match award.

Indian captain Manpreet agreed it was a gradual begin. “But we had more of the ball and should have got more goals. We wanted a winning start and we got one. Once we are back at the hotel, we will have a meeting and understand where we need to improve and be ready for tomorrow’s match against South Korea.”

Aikman, the Japanese coach ultimately agreed that the group that scores objectives wins the match. “That is the essence of sport. There are no points given for creating better opportunities. But we are getting closer to India. That day is not far when we will beat them.”

Korea won’t be straightforward opponents particularly after their 6-Three thrashing of Canada. Six objectives within the first three quarters confirmed indicators of a particularly match Korean facet. India look sub-par. They want to boost their sport, stage of subtlety, present extra menace up entrance, create mixtures and reveal an all-round sport plan that wasn’t seen in opposition to Japan. 2018 at instances was an train in inconsistency. It is time India began to vary issues.

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