- India beat Japan 7-2 in the semi-finals of FIH Series Finals
- As a result, they have ensured a place in the Olympic Qualifiers
- India will face South Africa in the final
The Indian team that everyone had been waiting for finally emerged, thumping Asian Games champions Japan by a huge 7-2 in the semifinals of the Hockey Series Finals on Friday. The Men in Blue not only proceeded to the finals, but more importantly, they also booked a place in the Olympic qualifiers. They will now face South Africa in the finals.
Indians demonstrated signs of genius in the second half, outright dominating the proceedings against their fellow Asians. In fact, the margin could have been bigger had the forwards managed to avoid doing trickery and get their positioning correct.
Here's a glimpse ?? of all the action from the second Semi Final of the FIH Men's Series Finals Bhubaneswar Odisha 2019 played between India and Japan on 14th June 2019: https://t.co/5swr5A1ZLI#IndiaKaGame #RoadToTokyo #FIHSeriesFinals #INDvJPN pic.twitter.com/7fksch9rnm
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) June 14, 2019
Despite the gulf in the rankings, it wasn’t going to be a straightforward game for the hosts. It indeed proved to be true, with Kenji Kitazato scoring the first goal of the game as early as the second minute.
Even though the Indians were taken by surprise, they hit back in the 7th minute through Harmanpreet Singh’s penalty corner.
For the better part of the first half, both teams were on the same page. On one hand, while Japan stretched India wide, on the other, the Indians forced themselves up into tight corners. It seemed to be a battle of nerves. However, Ramandeep Singh ended the stalemate by tapping in the 23rd minute. By the half time, the score stood at 4-2, with Japanese keeper Takashi Yoshikawa making 3 consecutive saves.
The second half was a contrasting affair, with India finally flexing their muscles. The home team attacked with intent and aggression. It spread out wide, utilizing the flanks to create openings. Suddenly, it seemed that the Indians were all over the Japanese half.
Inevitably, the Men in Blue was rewarded in the 37th minute, when Ramandeep Singh slotted home a rebound from India’s eighth Penalty Corner. Japan were dismantled by then and there was no coming back for the Asian Games champion.
As a result of the comfortable victory, the team will now face South Africa in the finals. The African team beat the USA 2-1 in a stunning comeback.