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Japan Upset Pakistan 1-0 in Semifinal

Jakarta : Japan achieved their biggest success in the Asian Games hockey,defeating Pakistan by a solitary goal in the semifinal to reach the final for the first time ever.
Now, they meet Malaysia In what would be the first final of the Asian Games not featuring either Pakistan or India.
Earlier Malaysia went past India in a nerve wrecking shoot out after twice coming from behind in the regulation time which ended 2-2.
So there will be a new gold medallist in the Asian Games men’s hockey competition.
Pakistan (8), Korea (4) and India (3) had shared the previous 15 golds.
Pakistan, who had convincing wins in all the five pool matches, had the first opportunity but Ali Shan’s attempt went out in the seventh minute.
Then onward, Japan had more of the play in the first half. They had two open play chances as well as two penalty corners. Off the second PC, Shota Yamada’s strong flat push went through
Imran Butt’s pads.
Half time  Pakistan:0    Japan:1
Pakistan appeared a completely transformed side in the third period.
Employing their traditional short passing game, they repeatedly entered the opponent’s
circle from both the sides but lacked the finishing. The two penalty corners coming their
way were also wasted. Japan hardly entered Pakistani circle during these 15 minutes.
The green shirts had the third PC in the first minute of the fourth period but again failed to
make it count.
However, Japanese manged to weather the storm and regained composure.
The last quarter was evenly played. Chances came to both the sides but there wasn’t any dangerous attempt.
The hooter sounded for the final time and the Japanese erupted into joyous celebration.
SCORER: Shota Yamada (18 Minutes)

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.

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