India defeated China 4-1 in their last pool match to maintain a clean slate going into the quarterfinals of the junior men’s Asia Cup hockey tournament, in Kuantan on Tuesday.
The win over China helped the Indian colts, who had earlier defeated Japan 2-1 and hosts Malaysia 5-4, register their third consecutive win in the tournament and finish on top of Pool A.
India will now meet Oman, the bottom-placed team of Pool B in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
For India, Manpreet Singh Jr (52nd, 67th minutes) fired two goals through penalty corner conversions while Harmanpreet Singh (16th) and Ajit Pandey (37th) scored one goal apiece.
China’s lone goal was scored by Haifeng Guo in the 43rd minute.
India started the match on an attacking note pressing hard on the weak Chines defense, but could only broke the deadlock in the 16th minute through a penalty corner conversion by Harmanpreet.
The first half came to an end with India leading 1-0. India doubled their lead in the second minute of the second half through Ajit.
But China pulled one back soon after in the 43rd minute through a penalty corner converted by Guo.
India, thereafter, increased their pace in the game to convert two goals in quick succession through Manpreet Jr to ensure the win.
“It is good that we have continued with our winning momentum. It gets tougher from here, and we all realise that we now enter the knockout zone hence every match is a new championship for us. I am glad that the boys stuck to the basics. We head back now to prepare for the quarterfinals and hopefully we will have enough to rejoice after that match as well,” Indian junior men’s hockey team’s chief coach Harendra Singh said.