India stayed in the comfort zone with a 7-0 result the opening Pool B game against Hong Kong China in the men's hockey competition on Monday. It led 4-0 at half-time.
To be eschewed now is that inevitable sense of complacency arising out of the outcome. Coach Jose Brasa cautioned that not much required to be read into the result; in fact, he was not totally satisfied with the performance which, he admitted, was hindered by the uneven bounce. He was transparently pragmatic and noted that India claimed full points.
If the tempo was low right through it resulted from the circumspection of the players, who were conscious of the undulating turf prohibiting excessive ball control and speed hockey.
However, there were enough goals — everyone feels the margin should have been bigger — but the majority of the chances were seized. There were a couple of perfect penalty corner hits by Sandeep Singh, a classic goal by Arjun Halappa, and the nice opener by Bharat Chikkara in the second minute.
Given the record between the teams in the Asian Games — six played and six won without counting the tie on Monday, India's win was only to be expected. What was discussed pertained to the margin and some wanted it be in double digits.
True, goal count does matter in a pool where there is a possibility of it becoming paramount.
Brasa conceded that tough matches are to come against Japan and Pakistan.
Bangladesh, coached by the German, Gerhard Rach, turned in an inspiring performance, holding the strong Japanese squad till midway in the second half riding on the charming deflection goal by Krishno Kumir. But Japan overcame the resistance by sheer persistence to net three.
The equalizer by Yamamoto came as a great relief to the Japan's management, notably the Surinam born Dutch coach, Aikman. And then, Japan hoisted the lead with a flawless drag flick by Nagasawa. A word of praise is due to the Bangladesh goal keeper for his stout hearted performance.
In Pool A, Malaysia accounted for Singapore by three first half goals. The Singapore defenders completely shut of the Malaysian attackers in the second half.
Coach Stephen van Huizen attributed this to the over elaboration of the forwards that allowed the rival defenders position themselves.
He estimated tough matches in the Pool against Korea and China. China opened its campaign on a confident note thumping aside what little challenge that Oman could offer with a 7-0 win a Pool A match.
Tuesday's matches: Women: Japan v India; China v Kazakhstan; Korea v Malaysia.
Men: Pool A: Korea v Oman; China v Singapore.
Keywords: Asian Games 2010