A great start to the tournament achieved, the Indian hockey team would look to iron out a few flaws when they take on hosts Bangladesh in its second Asia Cup clash here tomorrow. Bolstered by the dominating 5-1 win over Japan in their campaign opener and considering the fact that Pakistan steamrolled Bangladesh 7-0 yesterday, India will start as overwhelming favourites and are expected to win the tie easily against the home team tomorrow. The Indians, playing their maiden tournament under a new coach Marijne Sjoerd less than a month after he took over the reigns, looked impressive from the word go against Japan. The match against Japan was a big test for the Indian team and chief coach Marijne. And the Manpreet Singh-led side didn’t disappoint at all. Barring the initial setback when Japan equalised in the fourth minute, the Indians completely dominated the proceedings and displayed some skillful hockey. The Indians showcased elegant one-touch, short pass hockey and utilised both the flanks to perfection to set up their attacks. And come tomorrow, India would look to polish the skills further before their final preliminary fixture against arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday. While the Indian attacking force of SV Sunil, Lalit Upadhyay, Ramandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh looked threatening, the young Harmanpreet Singh not only held the defence together but was also a force to reckon with while taking penalty corners, converting two set pieces. The Asia Cup is India’s only tournament before the year- ending big event, the FIH Hockey World League Finals in Bhubaneswar, and Marijne is looking at the ongoing tournament to assess his resources.
Even though it was a commanding performance against Japan, Marijne is not satisfied just like any other coach. “As a coach, I am always critical so I have to say I am not 100 per cent happy with how we played. I believe we can do better but this was our first match and now that the team is done with shaking off the initial jitters, I think we can focus on improved performance in the next game,” he said. The Indians would look to stick to the basics and execute their plans well. “If we are able to do that (stick to our plans), then I don’t see why we should not win the match,” Marijne, who is on his first major tournament with the Indian men’s team, said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh skipper Rashel Mahmud said his team will have to put up a much better performance against India if they want to give any fight to their fancied opponents.
“We did not play a good match against Pakistan and made a lot of mistakes that led them to score so many goals. It was a bad start but we don’t want to let this loss affect our confidence. We will comeback as a better team against India,” the skipper had said after the match against Pakistan last night.