Indian hockey team began its Asia Cup 2017 campaign with a 5-1 win over Japan in Dhaka on Wednesday.
The Asia Cup will be the beginning of new phase in Indian hockey as it would be newly-appointed coach Sjoerd Marijne's first test post the sacking of Roelant Oltmans. The Indians exploited every single bit of space given by the Japanese and utilised the wings to perfection to set up the attacks.
The results: India 5 (S.V. Sunil 3, Lalit Upadhyay 22, Ramandeep 33, Harmanpreet Singh 35 & 48) bt Japan 1 (Kenji Kitazato 4); Pakistan bt Bangladesh 7-0.
Pakistan, at that time, were the undisputed kings of hockey holding all the titles: Olympic, World Cup, Asian Games and Asia Cup.
He said that the tournament would help local players learn techniques from these goalkeepers."Our players are physically weak and they haven't been on global tours".
"The first match is always hard as the players need time to settle down".
"We have part-time players who assembled just before the Asia Cup because they had to study and work. The team is upbeat and ready for the first challenge", he said on the eve of the tournament opener. "We can never take Japan to be an easy team", the India skipper said.
Japan coach Siegfried Aikman felt that the match was a little lop-sided because his part-time players were up against a professional India outfit.
"We are aware that we go into this tournament as the highest-ranked team and we will aim to keep up the No.1 status", the skipper has said.
Two-time champions India, who came into the tournament following a disappointing campaign in the Hockey World League (HWL) semifinal round in England, took only three minutes to take the lead when Sunil Sowmapret put India ahead from a counter attack.