India was in deep trouble as Japan scored the opening goal in the 2nd minute, then made it 2-2 in the 20th minute leaving the crowd at the Kalinga Stadium shell-shocked. India recovered from the early scare as goals from Ramandeep Singh, Hardik Singh, Gursahibjit Singh and Vivek Prasad secured a 7-2 win to seal a place in the final of the FIH Hockey Series Finals at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar on Friday.

The team’s ability to dig deep has left India’s head coach Graham Reid ‘almost satisfied’.

“It was good game today. I am very happy for the young players for scoring (Hardik and Gursahibjit). It is the first time where I was almost satisfied,” Reid said.

The win also booked India’s place in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in November. The Australian said that his team will strive to put in better performances in the upcoming tours of Japan and Belgium.

Read: Reid's men secure spot in final

“We have not qualified for the Olympics yet. There is one more round to go (Olympics Qualifiers). And we have two tours before November, so we will see what more we can do before the qualifiers,” he added.

Defender Harmanpreet Singh, who played his 100th international game for India on Friday, admitted that the game was far from perfect.

“When it comes to the basics of hockey, we have done well. But I would not say that we have not committed any mistakes. But there is always a way to rectify those mistakes. We have worked hard for this and we have the mindset to the win the tournament,” he said.

Despite the defeat, Japan coach Siegfried Aikman felt that his team has learned a valuable lesson.

“We lacked the physicality of India. Two of my players took hits and that intensity what the Indian players showed makes the game so good. We are not used to that kind of hockey. But the best thing is that now we know better after playing match at this level,”

—We have won our final, says South Africa coach—

South Africa staged a remarkable comeback against USA in the first semifinal of the day as it came back from 0-1 down at half-time to win 2-1 by scoring in the dying seconds of the game. The reigning African Champion’s head coach Garreth Ewing was delighted that his team has secured a spot in the Olympic Qualifiers.

“We had won our final. The final (on Saturday), whoever we play, will be the cherry on top,” he said.

It had been financially difficult year for the world no 12 where the players had to pay for their flight tickets to play in tours abroad. Ewing felt that the win would ease the situation going on with the South African Hockey Association.

“We could now walk into the board room and say that they now have to sort out the funding and give us the Test matches we need to prepare for the Olympics,” he said.