Jul 11

Written by: Sundeep Misra
Friday, July 11, 2008 

Drag flicker Diwakar Ram's brace helped India start their Junior Asia Cup title defence on a winning note, defeating Japan 2-0 in a Group-A encounter of the event at the Gachibowli hockey stadium on Friday.

Though Indian forwards made several raids at the Japanese goal throughout the match, they could find the net only twice.

Ram scored the first goal as early as in the sixth minute of the match and then doubled the lead in the 41st minute, both through penalty corners.

However, the hosts short corner conversion was not up to the mark as they could capitalise on only two out of the five they have earned in the entire match.

Japan might have lost the match, but they put up a brave fight. What did them was their forward's inability to capitalise on scoring opportunities.

Although, India pocketed full points from the tie, their performance against a lowly Japanese side was lacklustre and coach AK Bansal was quick to express his disappointment, adding that the players need to pull up their socks in the remaining matches of the tournament.

"We played very poorly in the first half. The boys must have been under pressure because it was their first match. But we need to definitely improve," Bansal said.

Considering their today's performance, India will face a daunting task against formidable Malaysian side tomorrow.

Earlier in the day, other favourites of the tournament, Pakistan and South Korea, had easy outings against minnows Oman and South Korea, while the match between Malaysia and Singapore ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw.

Pakistan thumped Oman 5-1, while South Korea routed Bangladesh 8-0.

For Pakistan Abdul Haseem Khan scored four goals and Muhmmad Zubair added one to the tally, while Oman's only goal came from Yasir Jan Al Balushi's stick.

Nam Hyun Woo scored a hat-rick for the Koreans and Lim Woo Geun scored two goals, while Seo Jun Su, Lee Dong Hyun and Bae Jong Suk scored a goal each.

In the match between Malaysia and Singapore, Mohd Fazri Mohd Jailani and Cher Shao Jie Benjamin of Singapore scored two goals, while Malaysia fought back to level the scores in the second half through Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin and Hang Edzharsyah Hang Tuah.


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