Former champions India and Japan go into an explosive encounter in the Sultan of Johor Cup tomorrow, with the hopes of both teams advancing to the semi-finals hanging by the tread.

India, the 2018 and 2019 silver medalist, suffered a shock 5-4 defeat against South Africa while Japan went down 3-2 against Australia.

“We made a lot of mistakes against South Africa and missed a lot of opportunities. When this happens, you can’t win the game,” said Indian team manager Mohamad Alam at a post-match press conference after his side’s shocking defeat.

“We were leading 3-1 at half time and made mistakes in the third quarter that allowed South Africa to score two goals to level 3-3. After this we just lost lots of opportunities and this is the end result” he added.

He added that the players were all fired up for the game and credited the South Africans who played hard and deserved this victory.

“They did not fall back after we scored each goal but instead came back much stronger. Their strikers took their opportunities well and lost ours. This is what the game is all about,” said Alam.

India and Japan will need to win tomorrow’s match to avoid sliding down the table standings. Australia currently lead the standings with six points.

Japan’s coach Hiroki Watanabe said he was delighted with the fighting spirit of his players who struggled hard to upset the Indians.

“I have always reminded the players that they should always stay strong mentally and be brave to face challenges against better teams like India. focus and play hard,” he said.