Indian women to go all out against Italy in do-or-die tie

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Indian Women hockey team against South Africa in London Olympic qualifiers
New Delhi, Feb 23: Pushed to the wall after a 2-5 loss to South Africa, Indian women will need an outright win against a lower-ranked Italy in their last round-robin match on Friday to reach the finals of the women's hockey Olympic qualifiers.

India had two comfortable wins against Canada and Poland but their surprising draw against a lowly Ukraine in the campaign-opener proved costly as they are currently placed at the third position in the pool with seven points.

With three victories and a draw, the 19th-ranked Italy are ahead of India in the second position with eight points from their last four matches and all they need is a draw to seal their place in the final.

Up against top-ranked South Africa, India came a cropper on Wednesday as they were done in by defensive lapses and ended up conceded five goals and coach C R Kumar have to ensure that they don't fall prey to the same mistakes against a resurgent Italy.

"It is a do-or-die match for us and we will go all out. We will try to win it at any cost and that too by a big margin," Kumar said.

"Our defence was weak, South Africa didn't give any room and they penetrated our defence quite easily, it is a defensive blunder. We need to work on our defence," he added.

The 13th ranked India also don't have a very good penalty corner conversion rate as last night they conceded five and converted just two out of six.

However, Kumar said he was more concerned about the lost opportunities on the field as the Indians faltered in their finishing.

"PC conversion is ok, it is not that bad, my concern is we had other chances, we created a lot of opportunities but we failed. We made a lot of unforced errors," he said.

The hosts looked to play a fast-paced game in all the last four matches but they were outdone by the aggressive Proteas last night.

Italy, on the other hand, have looked a different team in the tournament and holding South Africa for a 1-1 draw in their third match has helped their cause immensely.

Last evening, Italy won an important match against Ukraine 2-1 to stay afloat for the finals with Alessia Doriana Padalino again proving her mettle when she scored early for the team.

Alessia has been impressive in the tournament so far and is currently the top-scorer and India can't afford to let her loose on Friday.

India can't step away from the pedal but at the same time they have to ensure that the defence is tight enough to stop the Italian forward line.

PTI

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