MUSCAT, October 22: Japan’s hockey coach, Siegfried Aikman feels India seem to be playing as if to make something up in the ongoing the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018. India beat Asian Games gold medallists Japan 9-0 in their preliminary league encounter at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Sunday night.
“India seemed a team which has to make something up,” said Aikman, wondering if India were trying to show that they were the champion team at the Asian Games. “If they wanted to show that they could win the Asian Games, they had to do it in Jakarta, not here,” said Aikman, who confesses to being an admirer of Indian hockey.
India’s next opponent will be Asian Games silver medallists Malaysia, who pulled off a shock semi-final victory to knock defending champions India out of the final in the Asian Games at Jakarta.
Impressed with India’s skills and determination, Aikman says India’s attacking style is a sight to watch. “I enjoy watching India because they play to win and they were too strong for us in this match,” said Aikman.
“India played a very high quality of hockey. Their counter-attacks were too good for us. We tried our level best, but they were too good for us. They played with focus and determination to perform,” Aikman said. “ They could also see that we had not recovered quickly from the previous day’s match.”
“India will probably beat us nine times out of 10 encounters. This was unfortunately not a day for us,” said Aikman, whose team is missing six players from the side that won Japan’s first Asian Games men’s title. The coach is pleased with the way the young players had tried to compete with stronger rivals.
“India taught us valuable lessons. We will learn from this game. If we meet India in the semi-finals or the final, it will be totally different,” said Aikman. “India made a point in this match, but they cannot do so every time.”
Aikman said Japan still had aspirations to make the semi-finals in the hero Asian Champions Trophy. “We still have a chance to advance to the semi-finals. It will only change if South Korea or Oman start winning matches and we slip up,” he said. “We look forward to doing well in the remaining games. We are not here to slip into the semi-finals by under-performance.”
India is leading the standings in the six-nation event, where the preliminary round-robin league competition will be followed with knock-out semi-finals featuring the top four nations.
Japan have won one match and two twice in three games, which places them in fourth in the standings, behind India, Malaysia, and Pakistan.
Korea and hosts Oman are the teams placed behind Japan.