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Sweeping aside early match blues, India who scored in the 3rd minute and then watched Japan snatch the equaliser a minute later steadied the ship over the 1st quarter to then dominate and pulverise Japan 5-1 in their opening match of the Asia Cup here in Dhaka. The score-line could easily have been double figures if Indian forwards hadn't made a hash of at least 12 chances in the striking circle which also involved one-to-one with the Japanese goalkeeper.
For Sjoerd Marijne, it was a winning debut in his first match as men's National Coach. "It was emotional and an honour," he said after the match. His assessment was to divide the match into two clear half's where he explained that India took time but settled down.
After Sunil's early goal in the 3rd minute and Japan's equaliser in the 4th, India broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute with a lovely strike in the 22nd minute by Lalit Upadhyay. After they did dominate the midfield and created enough to have the Japanese keep a set of defenders who refused to make offensive moves.
In the 33rd and 35th minutes, goals off Ramandeep Singh and Harmanpreet Singh made it 4-1 for India. Harmanpreet also got the 5th and his 2nd goal of the match. But fluffed the 4th and 5th penalty corners and thus couldn't record a hat-trick.
Manpreet Singh, captain of the Indian side, explained that it wasn't out of the ordinary to play a match under a new national coach but did say that 'a win was important for India and we are happy to achieve it."
Overall, a good strong performance from the Indian side. For India, Sardar played full back and had a consistent performance with both goalkeeper's – Suraj Karkera and Akash Chikte – playing a half each. The Indian coach did maintain that winning is important and that it's important to figure out a compact side in time for the 2018 World Cup. India now plays Bangladesh on the 13th before playing Pakistan on 15th. It's a good start for India upon which they should build a performance to focus for a place in the final.