Asian Champions Trophy: Indian hockey eves face Japanese test

Updated: 12 May 2018 03:05 PM

Donghae City [Korea], May 12 (ANI): Defending champions India will take on a tough Japanese side in their opening match at the 5th Women's Asian Champions Trophy here on Sunday.

The team, led by experienced defender Sunita Lakra and vice-captain Savita, eye a strong start against World No.12 Japan.

It should be noted that Japan had given India a hard fight in the past, often challenging them with a structured defence and making scoring a herculean task.

In the 2013 Asian Champions Trophy Final, Japan had beaten India in the final to win the trophy.

In the 2016 edition where India eventually won the title for the first time, Japan had held India to a 2-2 draw and had beaten finalists China in the Pool Stage of the tournament which was held in Singapore.

Meanwhile, India had lost 0-2 to Japan in last year's Hockey World League Round Three in July but avenged that loss in the Asia Cup where they defeated Japan, who were the defending champions and hosts of the tournament.

"We have always had tough competition against Japan. They are a quality team and breaking their defence early in the match will be crucial for us," stated the 27-year-old skipper, a native of Sundargarh district, Odisha.

India can take heart from their 6-0 win against Malaysia in the warm-up match on Friday. The team, according to Sunita, is high on confidence after doing well against higher ranked teams at the recently-concluded 21st edition of the Commonwealth Games.

"We want to make a good start to the tournament and the team is confident of it. We no longer go into tournaments as the underdogs. We have a winning mentality now and want to take it match-by-match here. We had a good warm-up match against Malaysia. It was for three quarters and the team played to structure. We hope to carry the same consistency into our first game on Sunday," Sunita asserted.

India will take on Japan in their first match on May 13. (ANI)

This story has not been edited. It has been published as provided by ANI