Men's Jr Asia Cup: Indian hockey team gear up for Pakistan challenge
New Delhi, May 26
After starting their campaign in an exciting manner by winning two games in a row, India take on arch-rivals Pakistan on Saturday in a bid to continue their group stage winning streak in the Men's Junior Asia Cup in Salalah, Oman.
India registered a stellar 18-0 victory over Chinese Taipei in their first Pool A match and picked up a comeback 3-1 win over Japan on Thursday with Araijeet Singh Hundal (36'), Sharda Nand Tiwari (39') and Uttam Singh (56') scoring a goal each.
Speaking ahead of the encounter, captain Uttam Singh said: "We have started the tournament on a strong note and we will look to continue with the same mentality against Pakistan. Our first two wins have given us the confidence we needed to go through the tournament. Pakistan have a strong team as well and it will be a close contest."
"We have a good defensive unit but Pakistan also have good attackers among their ranks. But we have faced similar challenges over the past and we are confident we will be able to restrict them from scoring goals," Uttam was quoted as saying by Hockey India in a release.
Pakistan, meanwhile, also began the tournament on a promising note winning their first encounter against Chinese Taipei 15-1 and beating Thailand 9-0 in their second game to remain unbeaten so far in the tournament.
"Playing against Pakistan is always a challenge. But we have trained well and if we focus on what we have been learning over the past few months, we will be able to get a good result out of this game. We have to keep our calm and play to our strengths," India junior team head coach CR Kumar said.
The two teams last faced off in the 2015 Men's Junior Asia Cup Final, which India won 6-2. Since 2011, the Indian junior men's hockey team and the Pakistan junior men's hockey team have met seven times, with India winning five times, Pakistan winning once, and one match ending in a tie.
India will play Pakistan on May 27 before taking on Thailand in their last Pool game on May 28.