After two heavy defeats against giants India and Pakistan, Bangladesh will get their last chance for redemption in the Asia Cup hockey when they will face Japan in their final Pool A match today.
The match will kick-off at 3:00 pm at the Moulana Bhasani National Hockey Stadium.
Pakistan and India both netted seven goals each against Bangladesh dealing their confidence with a major blow but the hosts hoped life would be easier against Japan, who came into the tournament marginally ahead in the rankings.
‘I think we were not mentally prepared for the last two matches,’ said coach Mahbub Harun. ‘Now, if we stay down again it would be difficult for us to bounce back.
‘We know that Japan is also a good team but I hope our players would play following the instructions and if they can do it we have a chance,’ he added.
Harun admitted that lack of experience in the midfield doomed his side to fail so far.
‘We have two young players—Nayeem and Roman—in the midfield and they are not so experiences. Roman made a blunder in the first match which cost us heavily. We could not play him because he did not bring the jersey from the hotel.’
Before the Japan game Bangladesh also have some injury worries as their captain Russell Mahmud Jimmy, midfielders Khorshedur Rahman and Imran Hasan Pintu could not train due to injuries.
Jimmy and Pintu had been recovering from ankle problems while Khorshed had suffered a back pain.
‘Today [Saturday] we gave them rests. We did not want to take any risk because they are all important players. We will talk to physio before taking the final decision,’ he said.
Japan, who began their campaign with a 5-1 defeat India, will take confidence from their 2-2 draw against Pakistan in the previous match, which also gave them a chance to qualify for the Super-Four.
If they can beat Bangladesh and India beat Pakistan by a bigger margin in the second match Japan will qualify for the Super-Four along with India.
India made it to the top-four with two straight wins and they would start against their old foes as favourites considering their recent form.
Pakistan have the history in their favour as they defeated India in 82 matches during their 169 matches while they only lost to the side in 57 games.
However, India won the last two matches in June when they thrashed Pakistan in the Hockey World League by a huge margin of 7-1 and 6-1 respectively.
Despite the history of bitterness and acrimony, India’s Dutch coach Sjoerd Maryne refused to take the match as special one.
‘For me it’s just another match and we would approach the match this way,’ he said.
‘We are focusing on our own development. The strategy is really important for us. Strategy means what the players will have to do and it is really important to succeed.’
Pakistan coach Mohammad Sarwar said they will take the field with the only hope of winning the match, mentioning their shocking 2-2 draw against Japan.
‘The draw against Japan made the thing a bit complicated for us,’ Sarwar said.
‘We have to improve a lot to avail scoring opportunities and I have asked my boys to enjoy themselves and also you can’t deny the pressure in an India-Pakistan match.’
-With New Age input