Kuantan (Malaysia), Nov 15 (IANS) The Indian hockey team staged a magnificent comeback to beat Japan 2-1 in their opening match of the Junior Asia Cup at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium here.
The first half began with India captain Harjeet Singh being issued a yellow card in the very first minute on Saturday, which led India to being reduced to 10 men momentarily.
Japan drew first blood eight minutes before the end of the first half, converting a penalty corner.
India levelled through a penalty corner when Harmanpreet Singh sent the ball in.
The end of the first half saw Japan winning another penalty corner but it was saved efficiently by Indian goalkeeper Suraj Karkera.
In the second half, the Indian colts pressed hard in the Japanese half. The hard work bore results when they won a penalty corner that Harmanpreet converted, giving India a 2-1 lead.
Thereafter, India controlled the game, rarely allowing the Japanese forwards to break through.
“We have been working pretty hard on our attack and defence and feel that it has really paid off,” coach Harendra Singh said.
“The hard work in the camp back home has helped us counter the Japan’s speed and we managed to gain our first win.
“The boys played really well, and Harmanpreet’s brace will do him a world of confidence,” Harendra Singh added.
India next take on hosts Malaysia in Pool A.