The Indian junior men’s hockey team started off their 7th Sultan of Johor Cup 2017 campaign with a hard fought 3-2 victory against Japan here at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium on Sunday.
Dilpreet Singh (11′, 53′) and Sukhjeet Singh (41′) scored the goals for India while Kyohei Ogawa (23′, 31′) scored a brace for Japan.
India kicked off their opening match of the campaign on a bright note as they displayed a good shape, and were constantly attacking Japan in the first quarter. It was in the 11th minute that India’s efforts were rewarded with a goal as they scored through Dilpreet Singh after the Japanese defence failed to clear the ball.
In the second quarter, Japan fought back into the match as they gained control of the possession. They were awarded a penalty corner in the 23rd minute when the ball hit the foot of an Indian player inside their circle. Japan’s Kyohei Ogawa converted the penalty corner as he brought the teams level on 1-1 after the second quarter.
The Japanese had a good rhythm to their play going into half-time and they maintained it at the start of the third quarter when Kyohei Ogawa scored his second of the match through a field-goal in the first minute after the restart to give Japan a 2-1 lead in the 31st minute.
However, the young Indian team showed their character in the latter part of the third quarter when they struck back through a penalty corner in the 41st minute to level the scores at 2-2. It was Sukhjeet Singh who got onto the score-sheet as he brought back confidence within the Indian team.
Going into the fourth quarter, India seemed to control the game and kept looking for the third goal which would help them register a win in their first match of 7th Sultan of Johor Cup 2017.
The dominant performance in the last quarter by the Indian team was rewarded when Dilpreet Singh popped up again inside the circle to score his second of the match in the 53rd minute, which gave India a morale-boosting 3-2 win over the Japanese.
India will now face Malaysia in their second match on Monday.