A young Indian side produced a gritty performance to beat Japan 1-0 and claimed the bronze medal at Asia Cup men's hockey 2022 in Jakarta, Indonesia on Wednesday. Raj Kumar Pal slotted home from the brilliant play involving Maninder Singh and Uttam Singh in the 6th minute. And it proved just enough for the Birendra Lakra-led side against the Asian Games gold medallist. The win also helped the three-time champions extend their head-to-head record over Japan, to 26-3.
This is the first time in the tournament's 40-year history that neither India or Pakistan are in the final. Earlier in the day, three-time champions Pakistan defeated Bangladesh 8-0 to finish fifth. Oman took seventh place, while hosts Indonesia settled for the bottom place in the eight-team tournament. Later, four-time champions South Korea face Malaysia in the final. Koreans are the most successful side, while Malaysia are yet to win the continental tournament. They were the finalists in 2017.
This is the second time that India have finished third in 11 Asia Cup appearances. India lost to Pakistan in the first four finals, then finished third in 1999. But they won the next two editions, and were fifth in 2009. In 2013, India lost to South Korea in the final.
India's next campaign is at the FIH Pro League. Manpreet Singh will return to lead a full-strength side when India face Belgium in Antwerp on June 11 and 12. On June 18 and 19, India face the Netherlands in Rotterdam in their final European stop. India are currently at the top of the nine-team FIH Pro League table with 27 from 12 matches (nine wins and three defeats). Catch IND vs JPN highlights here:
4:13 PM IST: India captain Birendra Lakra wins the player of the match award for his sturdy defensive work.
4:07 PM IST: Full-time - India 1-0 Japan
India down to ten men again, this time for five minutes. Manjeet! India briefly enjoy possession but Japan on the attack. Suraj Karkera does well to kick the ball, and Maninder Singh on the run. With seconds remaining, Japan on the ball. And hooter sounds. India win the bronze medal.
4:04 PM IST: 4th Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
A wayward cross-field pass from Masaki Ohashi. India back to full strength, and lose the ball. Japan win a long corner. And quickly Raiki Fujishima fails to find Japanese attackers inside the D with his cross.
4:02 PM IST: 4th Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
Les than five minutes remaining. India finally have a run. But Pawan Rajbhar gets a green card.
4:00 PM IST: 4th Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
A good spell for Japan. And Japan change the goalie again. Takashi Yoshikawa back after checking for a concussion.
3:57 PM IST: 4th Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
Lightning-quick attack from India. But their bid to win PC goes in vain. And another attack from India. Uttam Singh, alone, inside the D. Spins and beats a couple of defenders than runs into the goalie. Takashi Yoshikawa in some pain. Umpire rules in favour of the goalie. And Japan now have a new keeper, Morita Yosuke.
3:54 PM IST: 4th Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
Koji Yamasaki fails to trap the ball just outside the D. Yashdeep Siwach pushes his rival, and concedes a free hit. Japan happy rolling the ball, and suddenly a circle penetration. Yet another PC for PC. Koji Yamasaki with the inject, Seren Tanaka too slow the react on the ball. Good defensive work from India.
3:52 PM IST: 4th Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
Ball raises, and hits Manjeet inside the right thigh. In some pain. Bravery comes with some pain. He's looking to block, and a body blow. India win free hit, then lose the possession.
3:50 PM IST: 4th Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
Fine stick work from Maninder Singh, then an equally poor work from Birendra Lakra to lose the ball. Japan, then, win another PC. Vishnukant Singh in pain.
Manjeet blocks, and another PC for Japan. Koji Yamasaki injects again, and skier. Japan challenges. And another.
3:48 PM IST: 4th Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
Final 15 minutes. India resume the proceedings. Nilam Sanjeep Xess in the act. India lose possession in the centre, but quick turn around. And long corner for India. Sanjeep tries to find SV Sunil with a scoop but the veteran fails to control. Rare mistake. Japan then wins a free hit.
3:44 PM IST: 3rd Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
India win the ball back. And hooter to signal the end of the quarter.
3:42 PM IST: 3rd Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
Clean work from Haruki Ochiai on the left flank, finds Takuma Niwa on the move, and PC for Japan. Tsubasa Yamamizu to inject. Japan try a variation, but Birendra Lakra alert. Danger not over though.
3:40 PM IST: 3rd Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
India tight in defence. But quick on opening. SV Sunil on a solo run, and finds Raj Kumar Pal inside the D. But the youngster fails to hit the target. Over the bar. Wasted chance.
3:38 PM IST: 3rd Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
Free hit for Japan near the centre line. The referee asks to retake again. Hurried. Then Japan win a PC. Koji Yamasaki injects, but the drag-flicker drags it wide. India on the attack, and Japan win free-hit inside their half.
3:36 PM IST: 3rd Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
SV Sunil and Yusuke Kawamura at it again, and the India veteran loses out again. But Japan hardly manage to create a chance. Uttam Singh fails to control the ball, and Japan using the width of the field to settle down, avert the danger.
3:35 PM IST: 3rd Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
SV Sunil on the move, and is checked by Yusuke Kawamura. Free hit for India inside the Japanese half. Wasted chance. And another quick exchange. Japan on the ball, again. Changing hands.
3:33 PM IST: 3rd Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
What a chance. India, inside the D, and Selvam Karthi carries. He just needs to slot the ball home. Free hit for Japan, and win a long corner from the following play. India on a quick counter. But fails to release the ball in time. Falling back to defend again.
3:30 PM IST: 3rd Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
Ikumi Saeki gets an earful from one of the umpires for playing rough. Japan, however, on the attack. Skipper Seren Tanaka sends in a cross. India thwart the attack, but Japan continue to press. And ball raises dangerously.
3:28 PM IST: 3rd Quarter - India 1-0 Japan
India resume proceedings, right to left. SV Sunil, operating on the right, wins free hit. India switch flanks. Then, pull back. Maninder Singh tries to link up with SV, then a free hit for India.
3:22 PM IST: Half-time stats
India led shots on goal 4-3, but Jajan have a lead on penetration, 9-7. Greater possession also for Japan, 53-47. Two PCs each.
3:15 PM IST: Half-time - India 1-0 Japan
And a quiet period comes to an end with Japan holding on to the ball.
3:14 PM IST: 2nd Quarter: India 1-0 Japan
Birendra Lakra, what! The captain almost gives away the ball. With one behind the line, it could have been a disaster. India, however, manage to keep the ball and another attack. The skipper then joins the attack, and a long corner. India happy to play the slow game.
3:12 PM IST: 2nd Quarter: India 1-0 Japan
Japan manage to beat the Indian defence from the left, but no one inside the D to slot home. Lucky India.
3:11 PM IST: 2nd Quarter: India 1-0 Japan
India concede another free-hit, this time closer to the danger area, just outside the striking circle. Good defence though. Manjeet is back, having spent his two minutes on the sidelines. Japan now lead India 8-5 in circle penetration.
Then, Takashi Yoshikawa makes a stunning one-on-one save to deny India a second.
3:08 PM IST: 2nd Quarter: India 1-0 Japan
Vishnukant Singh does well to block the push, but Selvam Karthi loses the ball to a brilliant tackle from Masaki Ohashi near the centre. In the following play, Manjeet gets a green card. Salad days. Pocking with the stick, not required.
3:06 PM IST: 2nd Quarter: India 1-0 Japan
Tsubasa Yamamizu, playing a withdrawn role, launches an attack but India read the move. Japan then launch an attack, and win a PC. Their first, Raj Kumar Pal's foot caught in a cross fire. Another PC, once again another Indian foot.
3:04 PM IST: 2nd Quarter: India 1-0 Japan
Poor stick work from Takuma Niwa. India win back the possession, just outside the D. Hit in for India. SV Sunil and Manjeet link up near the near flag. And Sunil looks to send in a cross. India, then, change direction. Now attack coming from the right.
3:02 PM IST: 2nd Quarter: India 1-0 Japan
Japan still with ten men. But a good start. First circle penetration, but a poor finish.
2:59 PM IST: 1st Quarter: India 1-0 Japan
A fine run on the right flank from India, but Ikumi Saeki body checks and free hit for India. Japan win the ball back from the restart. A good move, and Suraj Karkera blocks. Long corner.
Then, Vishnukant Singh on the run, and a foul from Takuma Niwa. Green card. That's all for the first quarter.
2:55 PM IST: 1st Quarter: India 1-0 Japan
Dipsan Tirkey with the ball inside the Indian half. He fails to find the intended target, but Japan settle with a rather hopeful push from Ikumi Saeki. Out of play.
2:53 PM IST: 1st Quarter: India 1-0 Japan
Skipper on the act. Birendra Lakra beats a tight defense, then manages to win the first PC of the match. Finds the foot of a defender. Uttam Singh fails to stop the ball properly, but he manages to find the foot of Kaito Tanaka. Another PC. SV Sunil with the inject, an India waste again.
2:50 PM IST: 1st Quarter: India 1-0 Japan
On the counter, India manage the enter the striking circle, but a timely tackle from a Japanese player ends it. Japan now rolling the ball. Manjeet gets beaten, but a free hit for India from a carry.
2:48 PM IST: 1st Quarter: India 1-0 Japan
GOAL !!! Maninder Singh launches the attack, and links up with Uttam Singh with a cross-field ball, then from the baseline a square pass to Raj Kumar Pal (6th minute). A cool finish by the 25.
2:47 PM IST: 1st Quarter: India 0-0 Japan
After a series of free hits for India, Japan finally manage to break shackles, with their own freehit. And deep inside the Indian half. Desperate defending from India. Some crowd in front of the goal. Maninder Singh clears the danger away.
2:44 PM IST: 1st Quarter: India 0-0 Japan
Long corner for India. Dipsan Tirkey looks for S. V. Sunil, but fails to connect. Win another free hit just outside the D. Nilam Sanjeep Xess sends in a cracking cross, but Japan defend well. Well, another freehit for India.
2:42 PM IST: 1st Quarter: India 0-0 Japan
Early free hit for India. But nothing comes from it. And Japan press from the left-right flank.
2:40 PM IST: Ready
Customary exchange of pendants. Japan, in reds, wil lstart from left to right. Match officials for India vs Japan will ve Nazmi Kamaruddin of Malaysia and Salim Lucky of Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, here's one striking fact. For the first time in the tournament's 40-year history, neither India or Pakistan will play in the final.
2:34 PM IST: National Anthems
India's first. Here's the starting XI for India.
India's starting line-up for their 🥉 game against Japan in the Hero Asia Cup 2022 held in Jakarta, Indonesia!— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) June 1, 2022
Let's make our last encounter of #HeroAsiaCup a memorable one! 🔥#IndiaKaGame #HockeyIndia #MatchDay #INDvsJPN @CMO_Odisha @sports_odisha @IndiaSports @Media_SAI pic.twitter.com/JdYbXl6ggR
2:25 PM IST: Heartbreak For IND
India missed out on a top-two finish in the Super 4s after a thrilling 4-4 draw versus South Korea on Tuesday. Although India, Malaysia and Korea finished on five points each, India ended third on goal difference. According to the Asia Cup rules, the top two teams (Malaysia and Korea) play for the gold medal.
2:13 PM IST: Old Is Gold
Malaysia, who have never won the Asia Cup hockey, will be desperate for the gold medal this time. The Malaysians have been on a rampage and blanked Japan 5-0 in their final Super 4s game to storm to the top of the group. Veteran striker Rahim Razie, who has already scored 13 goals in six matches, will be the key man in the attack for unbeaten Malaysia.
1:52 PM IST: Consolation For Pakistan
Pakistan defeated Bangladesh 8-0 to finish 5th. Oman and Indonesia 7th and 8th respectively. Later in the day, the four-time champions South Korea will face Malaysia for the title.
1:50 PM IST: Welcome
It's the final day of the Asia Cup Men's Hockey 2022. India take on Japan in the second match of the day, after the Pakistan vs Bangladesh fifth-place match. India, having defeated Japan in their last meeting, will start favourites.