Kuantan (22, Oct, 2016): Japan head coach, Yamasori Takahiko has promised some form of ripples when they meet Malaysia in their second match of the QNET 4th Asian Champions Trophy at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in this east coast city of Kuantan on Sunday.
As far is Takahiko is concerned, the door is still open for all six teams to gain entry into the semi-finals despite suffering a 10-2 defeat against high-riding India on Thursday.
“It was only our first match and we have put that defeat at the back of our minds. The players are equally upset with their own performance against India and it this kind attitude that I want them to adopt,” said Takahiko at a pre-match press conference here today, adding that they will rise from this unsavoury episode and play a much better game against Malaysia.
“We watched Malaysia play China yesterday (Friday). There have made several changes to the squad that played against us in Japan. We will go with a positive mind against the host and do our best. We are prepared for them,” added the former Japan forward.
However, Takahiko admitted that Malaysia’s biggest strength lies in penalty corners and they have shown this against Pakistan and China.
“Minimising Malaysia’s chances of creating penalty corners is also in our plans. The less we give them this kind of opportunities we would have succeeded in keeping them back,” he said with a wryly smile. “Though we are in the process of team re-building this kind of opportunities against strong teams in Asia will allow the players to play better and learn from past mistakes such as against India,” he added.
Malaysian head coach, Stephen van Huizen, however, has warned his Malaysia Tigers not to take their foot off the pedal against the Japanese.
Van Huizen said it would be suicidal to falsely conclude that Japan is the weakest of the six teams here after the 10-2 drubbing by India in their opening match on Thursday.
“I believe tomorrow’s game against Japan is as important as our first two matches against Pakistan and China. There is no letting down more so against Japan who is definitely coming back hard after their 10-2 defeat against India,” said Van Huizen at a pre-match press conference here today.
“We did not fare that well against Japan on our tour there few months back but with an almost full force side in the team now, I hope we can carry on our winning ways without any flaws. They (Japan) do have experience players but mostly are youngsters with few international caps but that does not mean they are an easy side to beat. I believe they were knocked off their heels early against India and it must be been shocking to them as well,” he added.
The Malaysian Tigers defeated 2012 and 2013 champions Pakistan 4-2 on Thursday and followed up with a 5-1 victory over China on Friday.
The return of drag-flick specialist Muhammad Razie Rahim and midfielder Nabil Fiqri and Faizal Saari has given Van Huizen more options upfront and in penalty corner conversions.
“It was Japan’s first match in the tournament and India’s quick forwards went on the oppressive to rattle them in quick succession in the big win. We will be wrong to assume Japan is a weak side from that defeat. They will be back as wounded tigers and we have to be cautious,” said van Huizen.
“Our mission is to qualify for the semi-finals and we have not reached there yet. A top four finish is what we aim to advance to the semi-finals. The games are going to be very tight. Even Pakistan struggled against Korea before winning with a very late goal, 28 seconds remaining to the end,” said the Malaysian coach.
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