Japan put up a phenomenal performance to win the 6th Women’s Asian Champions Trophy at Donghae by putting it across South Korea by the odd goal in three in the summit clash. The title win is a reflection of the consistent efforts of the Japanese women’s hockey team. The triumph has an Indian connection – former Indian goalkeeper and former Olympian Jude Menezes guided Sakurai Japan to glory at Donghae as head coach of the team.
This is the second time Japan have won the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy – they had last won it 2013 in their own backyard – Kakamigahara – edging out India by a solitary goal. Japan have maintained a clean slate in the tournament – they got the better of South Korea 1-0 in their tournament opener and subsequently sneaked past China 3-2 in their second tie before wrapping up their league engagements with a 6-0 clobbering of Thailand prior to their final win.
“I’m extremely happy with the manner in which the girls have emerged champions at the Asian Champions Trophy. It was a good opportunity to connect and build a good rapport with the team,” says Menezes in a chat with Hockey Passion from Donghae.
The Japan women’s team head coach was impressed with the tenacity of the girls. “I’m chuffed with the way the team showed character and resilience to come from behind twice and register wins against higher-ranked opponents. This was our first tourney in our build up to the Asia Cup, World Cup and Asian games, all to be held in 2022.Looking forward to building on this success,” he says with a tinge of optimism.