Assured of participation in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as host country, Japan want to test themselves against top teams of the world and inculcate the habit of winning before the quadrennial extravaganza, said coach Siegfried Aikman. Japan will take on World No.5 India in the second semifinal of the FIH Series Finals here Friday, a tournament offering two spots for the FIH Olympic Qualifiers, to be held in October-November this year.
Aikman said apart from winning against a top team, his other goal from this tournament is to earn ranking points. "Losing doesn't exist in my nature. We came here to win and we want to test ourselves in winning. It will be a big challenge and our aim is to prepare ourselves to win matches like these," he said on the eve of the match against India.
"If we want to win at the Olympics, we will have to beat the top 10 teams, and the only top 10 team in Asia is India. We are here for world-ranking points," Aikman said. Terming India as the favourites, the Japan coach said to make the sport more interesting, the "underdogs" need to end up on the winning side more often.
"I noticed that India is doing very well, but that's not a guarantee for success. Still at this moment, we strongly believe we can win. A match is over when it is over. "Statistically, India should win but if that happens in sport, it will be boring. Underdogs make hockey interesting," Aikman said.
India's chief coach Graham Reid said they are not taking Japan lightly despite holding a good record against the Asian Games gold medalist in the recent past. "To win a tournament like this, you have to beat everybody. A semifinal is always a different game. I am always a believer that yesterday's result not necessarily determine today's result.
"I don't drag too much into reading past performances. Japan played very well last night and we have them in the semis tomorrow. We will be trying to win the game and play the best we can," Reid said. Reid said the key to success is to take the semifinal as any other normal game.
"This has to be a normal game for us. We have to prepare like we normally would. We will be focusing on the first few minutes of the game and move forward from there," the Australian said.
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