Asian Games Hockey: India face South Korean test in semis

India's Raghunath Vokkaliga Ramchandra (left) celebrates a goal against China, with Manpreet Singh during their match at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon on Saturday (September 27). India won to qualify for semi-finals.
Incheon, Sep 29: Looking to end a 16-year-old gold drought, the Indian men's hockey team faces a tough South Korea test in the semi-finals of the 17th Asian Games, here tomorrow.

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The Sardar Singh-led side came back well after losing a tense third Pool B game against Pakistan 1-2 to put it across China 2-0 in their fourth and last league match to qualify for the last-four at the Seonhak hockey stadium.

India, who last won a gold in the 1998 Bangkok edition under Dhanraj Pillay's captaincy, are once again looking for a top finish and gain a direct entry into the 2016 Rio Olympics. However, a lot of concerns lie in all departments of their game.

Their defense is still not steady in the face of speedy thrusts and the weakness was evident against a skillful Pakistan side. The Indian attack also lacks a real 'livewire' approach and the midfield has still not exercised the authority required at this level.

India are depending on earning penalty corners to move ahead in matches, a dangerous trend, and with ace drag-flicker Rupinderpal Singh injuring his groin in the second game against Oman has really not been up to the mark. India are thus leaning on V R Raghunath to bail them out when the chips are down.

The fact that Sunil, Chinglensana Singh, Danish Mujtaba and Birendra Lakra have just one field goal each to their name – even after playing against minnows like Oman and Sri Lanka – tells its own tale.


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