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India need to beat Korea to salvage some pride

Written by: Staff

Monchengladbach, Sep 10 (UNI) India will play for pride in their remaining two pool fixtures after blowing away their podium hopes with inconsistent performances at the Hockey World Cup here.

The Indian forwards will have to pull up their socks and the midfielders will have to rethink their tactics, and overall, players need to have belief in themselves if they have to avoid the humiliation of finishing the league without a win.

India's next two rivals are title contenders South Korea and Holland. Both the teams have produced some exciting hockey so far and it will be a Herculean task for the former Asian giants to get past them.

The former champions, despite braving it out against hosts and defending champions Germany, when they lost out to a last minute goal, were a appaling against England in their next outing.

Beaten by the odd goal in five against England, India struggled against South Africa in their next game yesterday. A patchy incoherent show forced them to split points thus leaving them in the cold for the medal round.

India will take on three-time Asiad gold medallists South Korea tomorrow. The Koreans, ranked seventh in global standings are the only unbeaten team in Pool B with six points from two wins, including their shocker against Germany.

Brimming with confidence after this dream start, they will try to take advantage of India's low confidence. They have a squad full of athleticism and agility with an uncanny ability of skill and speed combined with flair and fluency.

The last meeting between the two will hold little water for Korea even though India had steamrolled them with a 3-0 victory at Kuala Lumpur in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup last June.

Korea stunned Holland in their opener and then overcame England and with six points from two outings, Korean hopes have sky rocketted and they are eyeing the last four slot. They have displayed gast and attacking game and their moves have all the hallmarks of any aggressive and sharp team.

India need to break the shackles with a more reassured exhibition and self belief in themselves and get back to the winning ways. They will need to bring additional spark and calibration amongst the forward line, which will necessitate outstanding midfield play with perfect distribution.

The Indians have so far disappointed their supporters with a lackluster performances. They did play well against Germany for a brief period but that is all they have to show after 210 minutes of play in the World Cup so far.

The Indian defence manned by Dilip Tirkey and VR Raghunath has been good but the forwards -- Gagan Ajit Singh, Tejbir Singh, Tushar Khandekar -- have not lived up to their potential. The midfielders, Prabodh Tirkey, Ignace Tirkey and VS Vinay have given uneven performance.

It is now the time for the players to think and put up their best for their own and country's sake .

Coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran, who has been supporting the players to the hilt despite the reverses, is hopeful that his boys will understand the importance of the matches against Korea and Holland.

''If we are able to win these matches, we will be playing for five to eight placings and then we can hope for better position,'' he said.

A much needed victory will at least salvage some pride and India might just end up avoiding the embarrassment of playing for 9-12 placements.


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