Antwerp, July 4:
After a heart breaking 0-4 defeat against Belgium in the last four contest, India will look to grab the third position when they lock horns against Great Britain in the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final here on Sunday.
World No.4 Belgium played a flawless game to trounce world No.9 India 4-0, while Britain lost their last four tie 1-3 against reigning world champions Australia at the Brasschaat Municipal Park on Friday.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s clash, Indian captain Sardar Singh said they would try and cash in on the opportunities created inside the penalty circle and not repeat the same mistakes they committed in the semi-final against Belgium.
“We committed mistakes yesterday and which cost us the match. For tomorrow we will aim not to repeat them against Great Britain. Our penalty corner conversions have to come right and we have to ensure that we capitalise on them,” Sardar said in a release.
“Also while we are confident of breaking their defence, we also need to cash in on the opportunities that get created once we enter the opponent’s semi circle,” the 28-year-old centre-half added.
India’s journey in the 10-nation tourney has been a little wobbly as after a very unconvincing 3-2 win in the opener against France, the 2014 Asian Games champions beat Poland 3-0.
The Sardar Singh-led outfit then drew 2-2 against traditional rivals Pakistan in a high voltage clash but were then thrashed 2-6 versus heavyweights Australia. However an inspired performance made sure they reached the semi-finals as they triumphed 3-2 over Malaysia in the quarter-finals.
Britain on the other hand lost just once in the tournament which came against Australia, otherwise they have drawn two and won three thus far.
India will once again have to rely on their forwards to deliver the goods. Jasjit Singh Kular, who scored a brilliant brace against Malaysia, will certainly be the preferred penalty corner exponent.
Ramandeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmiah, Akashdeep Singh, Yuvraj Walmiki, Devindar Walmiki will be the players on whose shoulders will lie the responsibility to breach Britain’s defence.
Skipper Sardar, seasoned Gurbaj Singh, Dharamvir Singh, Manpreet Singh, Chinglesana Singh will be the midfielders who have to take the responsibility of helping out not only the forwards but also the defenders.
Indian defenders — Jasjit, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra — should be on their toes to fend off attacks from the likes of Ashley Jackson, Adam Dixon, David Condon and Sam Ward. England skipper Barry Middleton, with experience of 348 matches under his belt, will also be a constant threat to Indian goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh with his swirling runs and delightful passes.
India chief coach Paul van Ass said “The team is aware of the loopholes in the match against Belgium. They know they have to rectify it and come back strong.
“The plan for tomorrow is to keep it simple and capitalise on the opportunities. Also we cannot afford to give away easy goals and we have to ensure we close the gaps,” the Dutchman added.
In other matches of the day, world No.14 Ireland will face world No.12 Malaysia to finish fifth — with the winner to keep their hopes alive for the 2016 Olympics. Three-time Olympics gold medallist Pakistan, who on Friday failed to qualify for the prestigious quadrennial event for the first time following their 0-1 loss to Ireland, will look to finish seventh when they take on world No.18 France. (IANS)