India finally got their penalty corner drill right as they beat Japan 4-3 in their concluding league fixture to finish third in the Champions Challenge hockey tournament here on Saturday.
Goals by Sandeep Singh (7th), Prabhjot Singh (22nd, 34th) and Dilip Tirkey (48th) set up the Indian win with Kenichi Katayama (12th), Takahiko Yamamori (47th) and Kazuhiro Tsubouchi (65th) replying for Japan.
The hard-fought victory, their third in five matches, helped India finish third on nine points behind New Zealand (11) and Argentina (10) while Japan remained on three points.
With no hopes of qualifying for Sunday’s final, after the 3-3 draw between New Zealand and Argentina, the Indians played far more freely and were under less pressure.
Also, with the Japanese midfield virtually non-existent, the Indians had plenty of time to launch their attacks. They converted three of the six penalty corners that came their way.
But then, the Indian defence, when under the infrequent attacks that the Japanese came up with, appeared rather tentative.
The marking and covering left a lot to be desired and the Japanese capitalised on these lapses. With a little more luck, they could have turned tables on India.
Carvalho rebukes team
Indian coach Joaquim Carvalho rebuked his wards for an error-prone defence and being far too relaxed against Japan.
"It should have been far tighter (match) and we simply gave away three goals to Japan on account of our lapses. Also, having scored four goals (by the 48th minute), our players took things easy," Carvalho told reporters.
In the classification matches on Sunday, Argentina play New Zealand for the title while India take on England for 3-4 positions and Belgium face Japan for 5-6 spots. PTI
India 4 (Sandeep Singh 7th min, Prabhjot Singh 22nd, 34th, Dilip Tirkey 48th) bt Japan 3 (Kenichi Katayama 12th, Takahiko Yamamori 47th, Kazuhiro Tsubouchi 65th);
England 6 bt Belgium 2;
New Zealand 3 drew with Argentina 3.