Dhaka (Bangladesh), 18 October, 2017: Japan and Oman played out an entertaining encounter in their classification match at the Hero Asia Cup 2017 here on Wednesday. It was Japan who emerged victorious with a 5-3 win against a spirited Oman team.
Playing the last match of the day, the weather was in favour of the two teams who were quick to get off the blocks with attacking hockey. Salah Al-Saadi notched up a 1-0 lead for Oman in the 2nd minute of the match when he scored sensational field goal to put pressure on Japanese defence right at the start. But the lead lasted only seven minutes as Shota Yamada pumped a well-struck PC to equalize in the 9th minute.
The following minutes saw Oman put up a spirited performance denying any real chance for Japan in their circle.
Koji Yamasaki, however, broke the deadlock for Japan when he converted a brilliant assist into a field goal in the 21st minute to take a 2-1 lead. Kenji Kitazato then doubled the lead in the 23rd minute through a brilliantly-executed PC. Oman, on the other hand, were not the ones to lose hope as Salah Al-Saadi scored his second goal of the match in the 24th minute to narrow the lead to 3-2. Only a minute before the second hooter, in-form Kenta Tanaka made a splendid sprint into the circle to take a successful shot on goal and enhance Japan’s lead to 4-2.
The third quarter saw Kenji Kitazato take Japan’s lead to a strong 5-2 when he scored his second goal of the match in the 34th minute. The following minutes saw tough tackling by Oman and made Japan’s going get tough. It didn’t help Japan’s cause when a slump in defence gave way for Rashad Al Fazari score in the 50th minute of the match and take Oman’s score to 3-5. Oman continued to keep up their undying spirit as they pushed for goals but was hard to come by with Japan launching good counter attacks and held better ball possession to eventually win the match 5-3.
Oman National Coach KK Ponacha appreciated his team’s effort. “We started well but you know Japan is a superior team in many aspects. They gradually took the control and in my opinion their defence was solid. We lacked the co-ordination.”
Meanwhile, Japanese National Coach Aikman Sigfried, said, “We should have won the match by an easy margin but Oman is very physical. We were cautious about avoiding injuries. This was a very important match for us and I am quite happy to be in the 5th-6th place decider and we are looking forward to improve.”
Goal of the Game:
Presented By: Shaikh Saidul Hasan (Assistant Vice President, Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd)
Winner: Rashed Al Fazari of Oman
HERO Man of the Match Award
Presented by: Mr Kamrul Islam Kismat (Former National Player)
Winner: Kenta Tanaka of Japan
About Hero Asia Cup 2017 Super 4s:
The Super 4s consists of India and Pakistan who topped Pool A along with Malaysia and Korea who topped Pool B respectively. Starting Wednesday, each of the teams in Super 4s with play against each other and the team that finishes top two in the Super 4s Pool Standings will make the Hero Asia Cup final on October 22 while the other two teams will battle for the bronze medal. The Super 4s offers the teams an equal opportunity to vie against hockey super powers in Asia, not only making the tournament exciting but it also ensures the winner of the title has played against all top teams in Asia to emerge victorious.
Next Pakistan play Korea on Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 15.00hrs local time while Malaysia will be up against India in a crunch tie on the same day at 17.30hrs local time. In classification match, Bangladesh will play China at 20.00 hours.