Hockey: Oman put up spirited performance in Asia Cup defeat to Japan
October 18, 2017 | 8:37 PM
by Times News Service
Action from a classification match between Oman and Japan in the Asia Cup in Dhaka on Wednesday. Photo - AHF

Muscat: For the second consecutive match, Oman put up a spirited performance but suffered another loss this time at the hands of Japan in the ongoing AHF Asia Cup hockey tournament in Dhaka on Wednesday.

The Sultanate squad, who impressed with their attacking game while losing their final Pool B match against Malaysia on Monday, were equally aggressive in Wednesday’s classification match against Japan, scoring three goals. But it was Japan who took the honours in a 5-3 verdict.

According to news posted on the Asian Hockey Federation website, Japan and Oman played out an entertaining encounter in their classification match.

Playing the last match of the day, the weather was in favour of the two teams who were quick to get off the blocks with attacking hockey. Salah Al Saadi notched up a 1-0 lead for Oman in the second minute of the match when he scored sensational field goal to put pressure on Japanese defence right at the start. But the lead lasted only seven minutes as Shota Yamada pumped a well-struck penalty corner to equalize in the ninth minute.

The following minutes saw Oman put up a spirited performance denying any real chance for Japan in their circle.

Koji Yamasaki, however, broke the deadlock for Japan when he converted a brilliant assist into a field goal in the 21st minute. Kenji Kitazato then doubled the lead in the 23rd minute through a brilliantly-executed short corner.

Oman, on the other hand, were not the ones to lose hope as Salah Al Saadi scored his second goal of the match in the 24th minute to narrow the lead to 3-2. Only a minute before the second hooter, in-form Kenta Tanaka made a splendid sprint into the circle to take a successful shot on goal and enhance Japan’s lead to 4-2.

The third quarter saw Kenji Kitazato take Japan’s lead to a strong 5-2 when he scored his second goal of the match in the 34th minute. The following minutes saw tough tackling by Oman and made Japan’s going get tough. It didn’t help Japan’s cause when a slump in defence gave way for Rashad Al Fazari score in the 50th minute as Oman mae it 5-3. Oman continued to keep up their undying spirit as they pushed for goals but was hard to come by with Japan launching good counterattacks and held better ball possession to eventually win the match 5-3.

In his post-match comments, Oman’s India coach K.K. Poonacha said: “We started well but Japan are a superior team in many aspects. They gradually took control and in my opinion their defence was solid.”

India held, Pakistan beaten

Meanwhile, in a Super 4s match India held their nerve till the last hooter to hold defending Champions South Korea to a 1-1 draw.

It was Gurjant Singh’s 59th minute goal that ensured India remained in the hunt for Sunday’s final. Jungjun Lee had earned the Koreans the 1-0 lead in the 41st minute.

In another Super 4s match, Malaysia recorded a narrow 3-2 victory over Pakistan.

Goals by Razie Rahim (10th), Shahril Saabah (25th) and Fitri Saari (34th) ensured Malaysia notched up their first ever win against Pakistan in Asia Cup history.

Muhammad Umar Bhutta (1st) and Muhammad Yaqoob (19th) scored Pakistan’s two goals.

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