Asian Games 2018 – Hockey: Pakistan Vs Japan Semi-Final Preview
Pakistan will play Japan in the hockey semifinal of the Asian Games 2018.
Japan, Pakistan, India and Malaysia are the only four countries which have figured in all the 15 competitions of men’s hockey at the Asian Games. Pakistan is of course the most successful nation with eight gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
Japan twice reached the victory stand, bronze in 1966 and 1970. They might be considered unlucky as on no less than seven times, Japan finished fourth. They attained fifth spot twice and ended sixth on four occasions.
Pakistan and Japan have played each other 15 times at the Asian Games. Thrice, they did not come across and thrice they played each other twice at the same Asian Games, in pool as well as the bronze medal play off.
The record is overwhelmingly in favour of Pakistan: 12 wins and three draws.Pakistan’s biggest victory came in the 1982 semifinal in New Delhi. They defeated Japan 12-1 followed by that memorable 7-1 win over India in the final.
Surprisingly, in the recent international events, Japan has a superior record against Pakistan.
At the 2017 Asia Cup, it was a 2-2 draw. They twice met at the International Festival of Hockey in Australia in November 2017. Japan defeated Pakistan in both the league match as well as in the 3rd position play off. This year, at the Tri Nation Tournament in Oman, they again met twice. In the league game Pakistan beat Japan 2-1 but in the final Japan were 3-2 winners.
Thus, in the last five matches against Pakistan, Japan have won three, drew one and lost one. However, after the Tri-Nation in Oman, the famed Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans took over the Pakistan team and there has been a turn around.
At the Champions Trophy’s final edition this summer,Pakistan were given a wild card entry. Though Pakistan ended last but they gave some amazing performances. Pakistan defeated the Olympic Champions Argentina 4-1, went down to the World Champions Australia by a solitary goal and only lost the 5th/6th playoff against World No 3 Belgium in the shootout.
More importantly, here at the Asian Games 2018, Pakistan are exhibiting scintillating form. They won all the pool matches with big margins including a 4-1 win against the higher ranked Malaysia.
Japan though suffered a big 0-8 defeat against India but won all the other four matches. In the last pool game, Japan needed to defeat Korea, who at 14 are ranked two places higher than them. In an exciting encounter Japan managed to win 3-2. Now, they face 13th ranked Pakistan.
Japan might have enjoyed success against Pakistan in recent times but on the current form the Green Shirts are the favorites in the semifinal.
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