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India pummel Asian Games champions Japan - storm into Olympic qualifiers

India pummel Asian Games champions Japan - storm into Olympic qualifiers

Subhashish Majumdar

Published: 15 Jun 2019 5:07 AM GMT

Graham Reid and the Indian camp can afford to give themselves a pat on the back after the primary mission of guiding India to the Olympic qualifiers has been achieved.

 While there is still plenty of work to be done in order to actually make it to Tokyo 2020, the think-tank can breathe a sigh of relief after their chargers made it to the final with a new coach at the helm - seeking to offset an infamous reputation of choking in the matches that count.

 The performance was far from clinical with the Indian defence caught napping early in the match which allowed Aikman's team to take the lead much to the disappointment of the crowd at the Kalinga Stadium.

 After missing a few sitters, the Indians won a couple of PCs and Harmanpreet Singh who was playing his one-hundredth international took the aerial route which goalkeeper Takano had no answer to.

 Varun Kumar added a second with a drag-flick of his own but Watanabe leveled the score following a move that dissected the Indian defence completely.

 A period of sustained pressure from the Indians led to three goals which sealed the deal in favour of the home side with Ramandeep scoring a brace - his second goal being nudged towards the net by a Japanese defender in a chaotic third quarter.

 Aikman's boys did not approve of a few decisions, including a couple of PC's that were awarded to the home team and also had a goal disallowed that irked a few of them in no small measure.

 The Asian Games champions allowed their frustration to get the better of them, and arguments with the umpires led to four cards being handed out – the greens turned to yellows as the match progressed with Aikman's side losing the plot altogether by the time the final quarter got underway.

 Gursahibjit and Vivek Sagar also got their names on to the score sheet and Krishan Pathak who conceded an early goal was brought back in the third quarter after Sreejesh had replaced him in the second.

 Although the Japanese had a goal disallowed, they were never in the match after the lemon break, and unwittingly helped the Indians take charge of the proceedings by choosing to display their emotions once too often on the field of play.

 The Indians play South Africa in the final - a side they had beaten by a 5-0 margin on the opening day of Odisha 2018.

 While Harendra Singh's boys managed to romp home in the end with three goals being scored in the last quarter, the South Africans did fight hard for the remainder of the contest at the World Cup, and will be a force to reckon with at the same venue today.

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