The Indian Junior Men's Hockey Team began their campaign at the Men's Junior Asia Cup 2023 in Salalah, Oman in an exciting manner, winning two games in a row. After registering a stellar 18-0 victory over Chinese Taipei in their first Pool A match, India picked up a comeback 3-1 win over Japan on Thursday with Araijeet Singh Hundal (36'), Sharda Nand Tiwari (39') and Uttam Singh (56') scoring a goal each.
Now, on Saturday, India Junior Men's Hockey Team will face off against their arch-rivals Pakistan in a bid to continue their winning streak in the group stage.
Speaking ahead of the encounter, Indian Junior Men's Hockey Team Captain Uttam Singh said, "We have started the tournament on a strong note and we will look to continue with the same mentality against Pakistan. Our first two wins have given us the confidence we needed to go through the tournament. Pakistan have a strong team as well and it will be a close contest."
Pakistan, meanwhile, have also begun the tournament on a promising note winning their first encounter against Chinese Taipei 15-1, and then defeating Thailand 9-0 in their second game to remain unbeaten so far in the tournament.
"We have a good defensive unit but Pakistan also have good attackers among their ranks. But we have faced similar challenges over the past and we are confident we will be able to restrict them from scoring goals," Uttam Singh said.
The two teams last faced off in the 2015 Men's Junior Asia Cup Final, which India won 6-2. Since 2011, the India Junior Men's Hockey Team and the Pakistan Junior Men's Hockey Team have met seven times, with India winning five times, Pakistan winning once, and one match ending in a tie.
Indian Junior Men's Hockey Team Head Coach CR Kumar said, "Playing against Pakistan is always a challenge. But we have trained well and if we focus on what we have been learning over the past few months, we will be able to get a good result out of this game. We have to keep our calm and play to our strengths."
The Indian Men's Hockey Team will play Pakistan on May 27 before taking on Thailand in their last Pool game on May 28. (ANI)