Playing for pride, can India spoil Korean party today?

London, Aug 5: The Indian hockey team, the first team to bow out from the men's tournament at London Olympics 2012, will take on Korea on Sunday. The Indians will look to play for pride in this match and register their first points. They are currently at the bottom of the table in Pool B after losing to three successive matches against the Netherlands, New Zealand and Germany.

The South Koreans, on the other hand, had a good start to the tournament when they beat New Zealand 2-0 but failed to keep up the momentum against the Germans and Belgians. They were stunned 1-2 by Belgium, ranked six places below, in the last match. With three points from as many matches, the Koreans must win the match against India to remain in the contention for a semi-final berth and they will go for the kill against a hapless India, there is no doubt.

The Netherlands and Germany are sitting at the top of the table with nine points each in three matches.

Coming back to the Indians, it was their worst-ever performance at the Olympics ever and their show in the middle dropped with each passing game. It was believed that they would put up a good show after a spirited fight against the Dutch in the opening match, but they were exposed by both the Black Sticks and defending champions Germany. India's goal difference with their opponents increased with each match, a fact which hints at the hopeless defence that the team put up. The forwards, too, failed to convert much of the chances and India struggled to score as well.

The Australian coach of the team, Michael Nobbs, was left fuming at the commitment level of the players and it does not reflect well on the team in the middle of a high-profile tournament like the Olympics.

India's last match against Germany, which the defending champions won 5-2, was a terrible display of hockey. The Germans outclassed the Indians in every department and despite drawing the scores 1-1 at one point, the Indians lost the plot. Sandeep Singh, considered one of the best drag-flickers in the world, failed miserably and the team, which is over-dependent on a few individuals, suffered. The likes of Sardara Singh and the trio of Sunil-Shivender-Tushar have also failed to deliver. Thy will have a tough time to break through a rock-solid Korean defence.

India have conceded 11 goals in three matches, the most they have ever in first three Olympic matches while could score only five. If they fail to script even one win, they will be playing for the 11th-12th position, which will not be the lowest ranking the team have ever had at the Olympics but also show the state of hockey in a country which had once won six successive golds.

India-Korea Olympic encounters

India won 3-1 at 1988 Seoul Olympics, group match

India won 5-3 in penalty shoot-out at 1996 Atlanta Olympics, classification match

Lost 0-2 at 2000 Sydney Olympics, group match

India won 5-2 at 2004 Athens Olympics, classification match

India have a 3-1 advantage over the Koreans at the Olympics, but going by the current form, it will be an immense challenge for the Indians to add to that advantage.

OneIndia News

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