India plays Japan in a classification game with the hope of avoiding its poorest World Cup finish ever
India might finish with their worst-ever finish in the FIH Men's World Cup if they lose their 9th-16th group match against Japan on Thursday. They are already dealing with a significant backlash after failing to advance past the quarterfinals.
If the hosts lose to the gold medalists at the 2018 Asian Games, they may be forced to play Saturday's 13th-16th classification match against an undetermined foe.
In the 14 previous World Cup tournaments, India's worst-ever result and position was 12th, achieved in London in 1986.
16 teams are competing in the current World Cup, compared to 12 in 1986. If India loses against Japan on Thursday, they won't necessarily finish last, but they will go down to their lowest position ever, which will be between 13 and 16.
After losing the crossover match against New Zealand, who is rated six places lower than India, in sudden death on January 22, India was eliminated from the current World Cup.
As the game finished in a 3-3 draw in regular time, the hosts had twice let two-goal leads slip away. The team captained by Harmanpreet Singh lost the shootout 4-5.
The squad managed by Mohammed Shahid had suffered defeats against Poland, Spain, and Australia at the 1986 World Cup in London. For their fifth-place result in the six-team preliminary league round, they defeated Canada and drew with Germany.
India later lost to New Zealand in the ninth-through-twelfth-classification match and was defeated by Pakistan, taking the loser's medal home.
In the classification game, India will need to play their best hockey against Japan, despite the fact that the defending Asian Games winners also had a lackluster World Cup here.
In the four-team Pool A, Japan, who overcame Malaysia in 2018 for their first Asian Games gold in Jakarta, came in last after losing all three of its matches against Belgium, Germany, and South Korea, giving up 12 goals and scoring just two.
India performed much better, coming in second place in Pool D after defeating Spain and Wales twice and drawing England once before losing the crossover match.
After losing 0-6 to India in the first round of the Asian Champions Trophy in December 2021, Japan has emerged as a formidable continental hockey superpower, defeating an India team at full strength 5-3 in the semifinal.
The Asia Cup matches in May and June of last year were tightly fought, despite the fact that India's second team beat Japan three times and lost once.
India has dominated Japan historically, winning 26 of the 32 games since 1932. Japan has only won three games, with the other three games ending in draws.
However, the under-fire India squad and coach Graham Reid would do themselves a disservice by underestimating Japan.
The fact that the hosts have performed well at the recently built Birsa Munda Stadium—beating Spain 2-0 and holding England to a scoreless draw earlier in the competition—can give them some confidence.
The Indian team consists of Harmanpreet Singh (captain), Abhishek, Surender Kumar, Manpreet, Jarmanpreet, and Mandeep Singh, as well as Lalit Upadhyay, Krishan Pathak, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, PR Sreejesh, Nilakanta Sharma, Shamsher Singh, Varun Kumar, Akashdeep Singh, Amit Rohidas (vice-capt
Japan: Hiro Saito, Ryosei Kato, Ryoma Ooka, Masaki Ohashi, Kaito Tanaka, Kisho Kuroda, Masato Kobayashi, Takashi Yoshikawa, Seren Tanaka (captain), Kentaro Fukuda, Taiki Takade, Takuma Niwa, Raiki Fujishima, Ken Nagayoshi, Shota Yamada, Yusuke Kawamur