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.
So 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 it has been a turn around.
At the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Pakistan (world ranked 13) ended seventh but the Green-Shirts remained undefeated throughout, achieving creditable draws against teams rated much higher, India (No 6) and England (No 7). Mostly, they came from behind to draw level. After quite some time, the Pakistan team displayed some real game plan. Notably, it was after six consecutive defeats that Pakistan were able to hold India.
At the Champions Trophy’s final edition this summer,Pakistan were given a wild card entry. The other five sides were all ranked among world’s top six. 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, Pakistan are exhibiting scintillating form. They won all the pool matches with big margins including a 4-1 win against the higher ranked Malaysia. Pakistan has scored 45 goals and conceded just one
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 favourites in the semifinal.