Golden Glory for India: Hockey Triumph at Asian Games Secures Paris Olympics Qualification”
Skipper Harmanpreet Singh led admirably as the Indian men’s hockey team mauled defending champions Japan 5-1 to reclaim the Asian Games gold, their fourth in the continental showpiece, after nine years and qualify for next year’s Paris Olympics in Hangzhou on Friday.
The Indians, who had to be content with a bronze medal in the last edition in Jakarta, thus won their fourth Asian Games gold and first since the 2014 Incheon edition.
India’s other gold medals came in 1966 and 1998, both times in Bangkok.
South Korea won the bronze medal after eking out a close 2-1 win over hosts China.
Harmanpreet (32nd, 59th minutes) scored a brace through penalty corners, Amit Rohidas (36th) also sounded the board from a set-piece, while Manpreet Singh (25th) and Abhishek (48th) found the net from field efforts to register the famous victory for India.
Seren Tanaka converted a penalty corner for Japan in the 51st minutes.
Harmanpreet, thus, finished the tournament as India’s top scorer with 13 goals, one ahead of striker Mandeep Singh.
The Indians, who ended the tournament unbeaten, were by far the better side against Japan, whom they had defeated 4-2 in the pool stages.
The Indians mostly used the flanks to great effect to build their attacks and also used down-the-line long balls to perfection.
The Tokyo Olympics bronze medallists were quick to get off the blocks and made quite a few circle penetrations but failed to convert them into goals in the first quarter.
India played high-press hockey and constantly put the Japanese defence under pressure.
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They got their first chance in the fifth minute but Lalit Upadhyay’s deflection from a pass from the left flank was saved by Japanese goalkeeper Takumi Kitagawa.
The Indians kept on pressing hard and, in the process, secured their first penalty corner of the match but Harmanpreet’s flick was brilliantly saved by an agile Kitagawa.
Two minutes into the second quarter, India earned another penalty corner but the variation didn’t work as Rohidas’s flick went over the post.