Women's Asia Cup: After 9-0 win against Malaysia, India ready for Japan challenge

Salima Asia Cup HockeyMuscat: Indian Women’s Hockey Team Chief Coach Janneke Schopman expressed that the players did well to keep the pressure on Malaysia through the 60 minutes play in their 9-0 win on opening day at the Women's Asia Cup in Muscat, Oman.

The team rode on goals scored by Vandana Katariya (8', 34'), Deep Grace Ekka (10'), Navneet Kaur (15', 27'), Lalremsiami (38'), Monika (40'), Sharmila (46', 59'). The defending Champions led by Savita made an attacking start in the first quarter with fast-paced set-play. Talking about the match, Schopman said, "We were excited to finally play a game but were a bit restless at the start, trying to find our pace.

"But after 5 minutes I think we started to play our own game with a lot of movement and good pressure which resulted in good attacking opportunities and goals," she said.

The first goal came through a smart assist by Neha Goyal to experienced forward Vandana who broke no sweat in converting the goal in the 8th minute. India's second goal came in the 10th minute via a PC courtesy Navjot Kaur who worked effortlessly in the frontline to earn India the PC. The goal was converted through a fierce strike by Deep Grace Ekka. Even as India's forwardline pushed for goals, the defence held strong, allowing no real threat in their circle.

Meanwhile, the third goal for India came when Lalremsiami intercepted the ball, stopping Malaysia from making inroads into India's half, and passed it on to a speedy Sharmila who showcased her exceptional talent with the ball as she raced into the attacking circle only to make a perfect assist to Navneet. A poised Navneet did well to beat the Malaysian defender and score a fine goal. She was responsible for India's fourth goal too and she remained the cynosure of India's attack in today's game as she impressed with her timely positioning to create chances.

Following the ten-minute half-time break, India continued to pump Malaysia's goalpost with a flurry of goals. It was Vandana who struck again in the 34th minute taking India's lead to a formidable 5-0 while her younger counterpart Lalremsiami extended the lead to 6-0 with a goal in the 38th minute. The experienced Monika, who was later awarded the Player of the Match for her timely assists, scored India's seventh goal in the 40th minute. India continued to dominate the proceedings with better ball possession and created potential scoring opportunities in the remaining minutes of the game. Lanky striker Sharmila added to India's scoreline when she struck two splendid field goals in the 46th minute and 59th minute, thus ending the match with a 9-0 score.

Japan challenge:

India will take on Asian Games defending Champions Japan in their second Pool A match. Japan beat Singapore 6-0 in their first match on Friday. The two teams had earlier met in 2019 during the Ready Steady Tokyo Hockey in 2019, a Test event ahead of the Olympic Games 2020. India had Japan 2-1 in the round robin league stage as well as the Final. Speaking about the opponent, Schopman said, "It should be a good game. Japan have also brought an experienced team so we are looking forward to playing them. It will be interesting to see if we can execute our gameplay using our strengths."