SOJC champion in 2013 and 2014, the Indians arrived here with a new set of players – none of whom had competed in the 2016 Junior World Cup back home in Lucknow or were involved in last year’s edition of SOJC.
“It was nerves. This is the first time the players are playing out of India and we will get better in the remaining matches. But I am disappointed with our penalty corner conversions. We had eight and could only score two,” said India’s head coach Jude Felix Sebastian.
“One of the reasons for the poor conversion rate in penalty corner is our poor stopping of the ball. This has to improve and I believe we can do much well as the tournament goes on.”
Japan’s head coach Kyoichi Nagaya says his boys could have snatched victory but blew this chance by allowing India to dictate in the last quarter.
“Overall I am happy with our performance and we hope to rise from this match. I believe the players are highly motivated after today’s game and its good for Japan.”
Dilpreet Singh opened score for India in the 11stthminute following confusion in front of the goalmouth which left goalkeeper Yuri Arnold out of position.
The first quarter was equally contested with India and Japan earning only one penalty corner. The Japanese, who are making their second appearance in the SOJC after claiming bronze medal last year, however came back with goals in the second and third quarters to take the lead for the first time.
Midfielder Kyohei Ogawa equalised in the 23rd minute via a penalty corner and came back eight minutes later to knock home the second goal off a field goal as Japan grabbed a 2- 1 lead in the early stages of the third quarter.
However, Japan’s reign did not last long as Jude Felix Sebastian’s India bounced back through midfielder Sukhjeet Singh to level score 2-2 in the 41st minute with a reverse stick shot off a penalty corner rebound. Dilpreet scored the winning goal in the 53rdminute via field goal and was aptly adjudged man of the match.
The Indians will go into the second match of the tournament on Monday (Oct 23)against Malaysia while Japan meets defending champions Australia.