Pakistan stands between India and hockey Gold
Colombo, Aug 24 (UNI) Clarence Lobo's wards have done everything right in the tournament so far, pumping in 15 goals in three matches to bulldoze their way to the finals and despite a revenge-thirsty Pakistan awaiting them in tomorrow's final, India would be hoping to do an encore of their league match against the traditional arch-rivals.
The developmental side under Lobo has been in irresistible form in the tournament and they announced their arrival with a 2-0 win against formidable Pakistan, followed it up with a 9-1 annihilation of Sri Lanka and then blanked Bangladesh 4-0 to storm into the final.
Pakistan, on the other hand, peaked late and beat Sri Lanka 8-1 for their passage to the finals where they would be baying for a revenge at the Nandimithra Ekanayake Ground in Matale.
The Indian forward line has been bang on target in this tournament, yielding, on an average five goals per match. The mid-field has worked like a well-oiled piston, while the rock-solid defence has conceded just one goal so far, that too was a result of a momentary lapse in concentration.
Raghunath's penalty corner prowess has come as a morale booster and the youngster has scored in all three matches so far with his inch-perfect drag-flicks. In fact the youngster can well be picked for the World Cup bound team after drag-flicker Sandeep Singh was ruled out of the side after being shot in a freak accident on Tuesday.
Tomorrow's match will give Raghunath another opportunity to shine and stake his claim for Germany. Sandeep Michael and Dhananjay Mahadik are also among goals while Gurvinder Singh Chandi has looked ominous whenever he entered the rival defence. The forwards have been fed well by the midfield and gratefully they translated most of the chances into goals.
Meanwhile, the 0-2 defeat against the arch-rivals has not gone down well with the Pakistan camp, which is plotting a revenge, and they can't have a better opportunity than tomorrow's final.
Meanwhile, the Indian coach warned his wards against complacency and said things can go horribly wrong if they take it lightly tomorrow.
''Pakistan is always dangerous, especially when they are playing India. They will definitely go all out for a revenge tomorrow. We can underestimate them only at our peril.
''We have done well so far and played the best hockey in the tournament. But the boys need to continue it for another match.
Otherwise a mistake tomorrow can undo all the good work. We won't settle for anything less than the Gold,'' he said.
''More than Pakistan, we need to guard against complacence.
Things have gone our way so far but that doesn't mean you can sit back and relax. Any India-Pakistan match is always a different proposition. Pre-tournament seeding and rankings go out of the window and you see a full-throttle battle between two belligerent sides. Tomorrow won't be any different and we have to end on the right side of the match,'' he added.
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