Malaysia: The Indian junior men’s hockey team started their seventh Sultan of Johor Cup campaign with a hard-fought 3-2 victory against Japan at the Taman Daya Hockey Stadium here on Sunday.
Dilpreet Singh (11th and 53rd minutes) and Sukhjeet Singh (41st) scored the goals for India, while Kyohei Ogawa (23rd and 31st) scored a brace for Japan.
India started their opening match on a bright note as they displayed good form and were constantly attacking Japan in the first quarter. It was in the 11th minute that India’s efforts were rewarded with a goal they scored through Dilpreet after the Japanese defense failed to clear the ball.
In the second quarter, Japan fought back as they gained control of the ball possession. They were awarded a penalty corner in the 23rd minute when the ball hit the foot of an Indian player inside their circle. Ogawa converted the penalty corner to pull Japan level.
The Japanese had a good rhythm to their play going into half-time and they maintained it at the start of the third quarter. Ogawa scored his second of the match through a field goal in the first minute after the restart to give Japan a 2-1 lead.
However, the Indian team showed its character in the latter part of the third quarter when they struck back through a penalty corner in the 41st minute to level the scores at 2-2. It was Sukhjeet who got onto the score-sheet.
Going into the fourth quarter, India seemed to control the game and kept looking for the third goal.
The dominant performance in the last quarter by the Indian team was rewarded when Dilpreet popped up again inside the circle to score his second of the match in the 53rd minute which gave India a morale-boosting 3-2 win over the Japanese.
India will now face Malaysia in their second match on Monday.