Hyderabad:It was not the way India would have liked to start their campaign in the Junior Asia Cup hockey championship on Friday. They struggled to beat the Japanese 2-0, drag-flicker Diwakar Ram's scoring both the goals from penalty-corners.
The Japanese were up for the challenge and their solid defence kept the hosts on their toes right until the final whistle. If Japan had not wasted a couple of chances in the second half, India would have been in deep trouble.
Japan was an unknown quantity for the Indians as they had not played them before. But at the floodlit Gachibowli Stadium here, Japan fought well and looked purposeful in their intent.
The hosts were clearly lacking in firepower and they looked a disjointed unit in the first half.
India got the first of its five penalty corners in the fifth minute and Diwakar struck straightaway. Thereafter they could not stitch a worthwhile move upfront to raise the tally.
India showed some urgency to start with in the second half and the result was Diwakar's second goal. The defender's clean strike whistled past Japanese goalkeeper Katsumi Ichikawa's stretched legs in the 44th minute.
Japan created some good moves with forward Hiroki Shirawa giving a torrid time to Indian defence.
Indian had another chance when captain Gurbaj Singh ran down the right flank to centre the ball, but there was no one to connect it.
India certainly will have to pull up their socks against Malyasia on Saturday.
India coach A.K. Bansal, disappointed with the performance of the team, said it was just opening day blues.
"This was our first match and there was some pressure on the boys. But we will have to improve if we have to progress far in the competition.
"It was a disappointing game for us. We played poor hockey in the first half. Second half was comparatively better, but we failed to convert the opportunities. We did not play to our potential and the boys will have to live up to their expectations in the remaining matches," he said.
Korea rout Bangladesh 8-0
In other matches of the day, Korea scored the day's most emphatic win, pumping eight goals against lowly Bangladesh in Group B.
Seo Jun Su began the carnage in the seventh minute through penalty corner, and after that goals rained on Bangladesh. Defender Nam Hyun Woo (11th, 17th, 33rd) converted three penalty corners to put Korea 4-0 ahead at the break.
The change of ends didn't bring any respite for the Bangladeshi players as Koreans added four more to their account. Lee Dong Hyun (38th), Bae Jong Suk (43rd), Lim Woo Geun (51st, 56th) were the scorers.
Pakistan drub Oman 5-1
In another Group B match, Pakistan, with five Olympic probables in the side, scored a 5-1 victory over Oman.
Three-times champions Pakistan were 3-0 up at the interval. Oman gave a tough challenge, but Pakistanis latched on to the opportunities.
Oman forward Basim Rajab did well to opened up the game for his side, but he had little support from his colleagues.
Pakistan's Abdul Haseem Khan struck four goals, in the 21st, 29th, 52nd and 65th minute.
Yasir Jan Al Balushi struck the consolation goal for Oman in the 48th minute.
Singapore, Malaysia 2-2
In a Pool 'A' tie, Singapore and Malaysia played out a 2-2 draw.
Singapore forged ahead through Mohd Fazari Mohd Jailani (4th) and Cher
Shao Jie Benjamin (32nd).
After the change of the ends, Malaysia bounced back with captain Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin (44th) and Heh Tuah (49th) striking.