In a highly anticipated match of Asian Champions Trophy, India’s dragflickers faced a formidable challenge against Japan’s penalty corner defense in the city of Chennai, resulting in a hard-fought 1-1 draw. Raiki Fujishima and Shota Yamada’s masterful penalty corner rushing left physical scars on the players, but it earned Japan a valuable point in the thrilling encounter.
India had numerous opportunities and dominated the penalty corners, earning an impressive 15 of them throughout the match. However, seven of these were re-awards due to shots hitting the bodies of the first rushing Japanese defenders. Despite their efforts, India struggled to consistently score past the brilliant Japanese defense. Only their tenth penalty corner resulted in a goal. They missed further five chances, leaving them frustrated and thwarted by the brilliance of Fujishima and Yamada.
For India, this result may appear underwhelming. Especially, considering their 8-0 victory against Japan in a classification match at the World Cup earlier in the year. However, coach Craig Fulton maintains a focus on the bigger picture, acknowledging that the Asian Games remain the primary objective. He emphasizes playing the long game, understanding that consistent goal-scoring and performance improvement are essential for their ultimate goal.
Fulton’s coaching approach differs from his predecessor, Graham Reid, as he prioritizes control and possession over high-intensity attacking. India now values recycling possession, maintaining ball movement around midfield and at the back. Even if it sacrifices some speed and tempo. Despite the contrasting styles, Fulton stands firm in his belief that the team is playing the way they want to and that the system is not the reason for their scoring challenges.
The coach recognizes the need for more clinical finishing and urges his players to take their chances. The team’s forwards will be under scrutiny as they must become more assertive and accurate in their shooting. Despite having 27 circle penetrations, they managed only five shots from non-penalty corner situations, indicating room for improvement.
With the upcoming match against Malaysia, Fulton has a day to recalibrate and make necessary adjustments. His objective is clear – to enhance overall performance and improve goal-scoring consistency. India must find the right balance and execute their system effectively to meet their objectives and secure a favorable outcome in their next game of Asian Champions Trophy. As they continue their journey in the tournament, Fulton and his team are determined to elevate their game and strive for success on the field.