India’s bid to regain Asia Cup hockey title got off to a brilliant start when they handed a 5-1 defeat to Japan in the opening match of 10th Hero Asia Cup at Maulana Bhasani Hockey Stadium today.
India, who came into the Asia Cup following a disappointing campaign in Hockey World League semifinal round in England, had to wait for only three minutes to take the lead against a youthful Japan when Sunil Sowmapret put India ahead from counter attack. However their lead lasted only one minute as Japan hit back through a field goal from Kenji Kitazoto in the fourth minute.
However, Japan, who suffered in all five matches during their campaign of Hockey World League semifinal round, were rendered helpless against India -- the world’s sixth-ranked side, who controlled the game nicely and scored one after another goal to leave the field with their heads held high.
Harmanpreet Singh converted two penalty corners while man-of-the-match Lalit Upadhyay and Cinglensana Kangujam stuck one goal apiece to give India a winning start in a bid to regain the title which they won in 2007.