Kuantan (Malaysia): On a high after their morale-boosting win over arch-rivals Pakistan, India now eye wins against China and hosts Malaysia on successive days to finish on top of the round-robin league stage of the fourth Asian Champions Trophy hockey tournament, here.
India will play lowly China tomorrow before squaring up against the home team on Wednesday.
The runaway 10-2 victory against Japan and the 3-2 win in yesterday’s intense sub-continental contest against arch-rivals Pakistan has kept top-ranked India on course for the leading spot in the round-robin league, which could ensure them a favorable semifinal fixture.
But the draw against South Korea means India are two points behind Malaysia, who have gathered the maximum nine points from three outings.
Defending champions Pakistan are still on three points after suffering two losses, but will now go into two easy outings against Japan and China.
The victory over Pakistan has reinvigorated the Indian team that was stunned by the spirited show from South Korea the previous day, but team coach Roelant Oltmans says the boys need to improve on yesterday’s fine show.
“We were much stronger than Pakistan yesterday, but we need to raise our game further. We can improve on this performance,” says Oltmans.
Missing some key players who are recuperating from injuries, coach Oltmans says the return to competitive hockey after the post-Olympic break has provided opportunity to several youngsters to showcase their skills.
But he was not very happy with the errors committed in the defence that allowed space for Pakistani strikers to have cracks at the Indian goal.
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