Asian Games hockey: Lacklustre Indian women go down to Japan 0-3

Guangzhou, Nov 16 (IANS) A brittle defence let India down and led to their 0-3 loss to Japan in women’s hockey at the Asian Games here Tuesday.

Japan outclassed an unimpressive India in the first half, scoring two field goals through captain Miyuki Nakagawa (10th minute) and Chiba Kaori (31). The Japanese withstood India’s sporadic moves to score in the second half but Arai Mazuki (69) sneaked in one more goal at the stroke of the hooter.

The loss pushed India to fourth place in the seven-team competition, with three points in two matches.

South Korea and Japan have won all their three matches and occupy first and second place. China are third with two wins from two matches.

India, who won a bronze in the previous Asian Games at Doha, will take on South Korea Wednesday.

India, who beat Malaysia 4-0 in the opening encounter, were listless throughout the match and some of the lapses in deep defence were shocking.

With Binita Toppo sitting out with an injury, Subhadra Pradhan and Joydeep Kaur were not up to the mark. The clearances from the defenders were not clean and opened up chances for the lurking Japanese forwards.

To add to the Indian woes, the midfield lacked creativity and the forwards failed to exploit the few chances that came their way, mostly in the second half. India also wasted the two penalty corners, one in each half.

On the other hand, the Japanese team played a patient game. They worked tirelessly, swiftly moving around the turf and were lethal with their counter-attacks. The midfield focused on cutting down India’s flow of passes, the forwards alert to snatch the loose balls from sloppy Indian defenders. It was not an eye-catching hockey by the Japanese, but they were effective.

Japan began with some good moves through the flanks, but the crosses went abegging. Miyuki, taking advantage of a missed pass, went up to the top of the circle, almost unchallenged and hit a reverse shot to score.

India got a penalty corner, but the variation Indians attempted with too many passes did not produce the desired result.

Japan got another opportunity when Shiho Otsuka brilliantly dived full stretched to the left and connected a cross, but the shot went wide.

Four minutes before the breather, Otsuka played her part in the second goal when her cross was deflected in by Kaori.

Japan got their first penalty corner in the second half, courtsey another shoddy Indian defence, but failed. India put together a snappy counterattacking move, but they could not score.

India made some attacking moves but forwards Jasjeet Kaur, Saba Anjum and Surinder Kaur could not put up a cohesive effort to convert them into goals.

Japan after wasting another penalty corner, finished with Mazuki’s reverse flick beating goalkeeper Dipika Murty just before the final hooter.

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