Hangzhou, 5th October 2023: The stage is set for a thrilling final at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 as the Indian Men’s Hockey Team get ready to face off against the 2018 Asian Games Gold medalist Japan on Friday. With a chance to secure a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics, both teams will be highly motivated to win the Final and claim the elusive Gold medal.
~ India will face off against Japan in the Final on Friday ~
The last time India won the Gold at the Asian Games was back in 2014 in Incheon, South Korea. India have claimed the Asian Games Gold medal thrice since the inception of Field Hockey at the Asian Games, winning the title in 1966, 1998 and in 2014. Meanwhile, Japan’s Gold medal win in Jakarta five years ago has been their only title win in the competition so far.
Speaking on the upcoming Final match, Indian Men’s Hockey Team Captain Harmanpreet Singh said, “There are always nerves at play when you enter a big match. We have been preparing for this tournament for a long time and this is the moment that we have all been waiting for. Winning the Gold medal and securing a spot for the Paris Olympics has always been our target. As a team, we have to ensure we do not allow the pressure of the moment to dictate our nerves, and that we continue to play freely and enjoy the game. If we are able to do that, I am confident we will be able to get the win.”
India have won all their games so far in the competition, and have already picked up a win over Japan in the Pool stage. In the Pool stage, India defeated Uzbekistan 16-0 and followed it up with a 16-1 win over Singapore. After beating Japan 4-2, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team picked up their biggest win ever over Pakistan by goal margin, defeating the neighbouring rivals 10-2. With a 12-0 win over Bangladesh, India reached the Semi-Finals, where they defeated Korea 5-3 in a thriller to secure a spot in the Final.
“We have already picked a win over Japan which gives our team the confidence when entering the competition. But we, as a team, never take any opponents lightly. Japan will be equally motivated to avenge the loss and have a really strong team as well that can shift the momentum of the game at any time. We have to remain strong in our defence and not allow any leaks in the defensive third. We also have to ensure we make the most of the chances that we create, especially when we enter the circle. The team that will be able to soak up the pressure in the best way possible will be in a better position on Friday,” Harmanpreet Singh further added.
Japan also have an impressive record in the tournament, and their 2-4 defeat against India has been their only loss so far. Japan defeated Bangladesh 7-2 and then followed it up with a 10-1 win over Uzbekistan. After a 2-4 loss to India, Japan bounced back with a 16-0 win over Singapore and a 3-2 win over Pakistan to reach the Semi-Finals. Japan defeated the hosts China 3-2 to secure a spot in the Final.
Since 2013, India and Japan have met 27 times, in which India have won 22 times, Japan have won thrice, and two games have ended in a draw. During their match last week, India were in a comfortable position heading into the final quarter with a 4-0 lead but conceded two goals in the final three minutes. Heading into the all-important Final, Indian Men’s Hockey Team Chief Coach Craig Fulton said that his team needs to be wary of not giving away easy chances.
“We have performed well in the tournament and the fact that we have conceded only eight goals, and scored 63 goals in the tournament so far, showcases that we have done well in attack and as well as in defence. But all it takes is one goal to lose the big one, so we have to be cautious. We should not allow the opposition to get away with easy chances and we keep our defensive forces strong at all points in the game,” Fulton said.
One of the best features of the Indian Men’s Hockey Team in the ongoing competition has been the fact that there have been 15 different goalscorers for India so far. Mandeep Singh (12) and Captain Harmanpreet Singh (11) have scored the highest number of goals for India in Hangzhou till now.
“It is always good to see when the entire team is contributing up front and getting shots on target. It showcases that everyone is equally motivated, and the players are willing to switch up from their position, whenever possible. It always puts pressure on the opposition to know that every member of our team is equally capable of getting the ball into the net. We hope we continue in the same vein of form as we have done so far in the tournament in the Final against Japan and get the win that we have been working for over the past few months,” Fulton signed off.
Indian Men’s Hockey Team will compete in the Final on Friday, 6th October 2023 at 1600 hrs IST.
The matches will be broadcast live on Sony Sports Network and live stream on Sony Liv.
HOCKEY INDIA TEAM PARTNERS
Odisha (India’s Best Kept Secret) – Major Team Partner
Sports Authority of India (SAI)
About HOCKEY INDIA
HOCKEY INDIA (HI) is the governing body with exclusive mandate to direct and conduct all activities for both men and women’s hockey in India. It is recognized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Govt. of India as the sole body responsible towards promoting Hockey in India.
Headquartered in New Delhi, Hockey India was established on 20th May, 2009 and is affiliated to the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and Asian Hockey Federation (AHF).
Committed to the development of Hockey in the country, Hockey India with the assistance of Sports Authority of India and Department of Sports, Government of India, trains players at sub-junior, junior and senior level. The governing body engages in Coaching the coaches with International Standard certification programs, educates and equips technical officials and umpires to find a foothold in international arena, provides world-class infrastructure and International exposure for the players besides regular international competition. Hockey India has also pioneered in bringing top International hockey events to India such as the FIH Men’s World Cup in 2010 and 2018, FIH Champions Trophy in 2014, FIH Junior Men’s World Cup in 2016 and 2021, FIH Hockey World League Final in 2017. With its vision to popularize the game and constantly promote it, Hockey India brought the Indian Men’s Hockey Team into the top three in the world. Hockey India is also dedicated to getting the Indian Women’s Hockey Team into the top three in the world.
Odisha – the Eastern State of India – is known for its love for Hockey and over the years it has evolved to be the Global Hub of Hockey. The State successfully hosted the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, followed by the FIH Men’s Series Finals Bhubaneswar Odisha, FIH Olympic Qualifiers Odisha, and FIH Hockey Pro League 2020-21. Odisha has previously hosted the Champions Trophy 2014 and the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017. Odisha also hosted the FIH Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup in 2021.
Kalinga Lancers, the team owned by the State, were the winners in the Hockey India League 2017. Taking a step further towards realising the dream of restoring the glory of Indian Hockey at the global level, the State is sponsoring the Indian Hockey Teams till 2033.
Odisha also hosted the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023.