India need to beat Korea to brighten prospects

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Updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Cologne, Germany:

After forcing Pakistan to bite the dust yesterday, India would be looking forward to a similar performance from the forwards in their last match against Korea tomorrow to nurture any hope of moving to the finals of the six-nation Champions Trophy hockey here. With seven points in their kitty from the four matches they have played so far, India are placed in the third spot behind Germany (12 from 4) and Holland (7 from 3). But they would be needing some luck for a place in the final. A win against Korea would put the Indians on 10 points, but that may not be enough to earn them a final berth as both Korea and Germany must prevail in their matches against Holland or at least salvage a draw to deny the Dutch the vital three points. Though the prospects looks a bit distant, but looking at the form swings of all the teams in the competition with the exception of world champions Germany, anything is possible, even an India-Germany final showdown. After the 3-2 victory over Pakistan yesterday, Indian coach Rajinder Singh said the forwards need to come up with yet another stellar performance, which could herald a new era for Indian hockey. "Early on, we used to see chances coming but the forwards are focused and are willing to strike early by not giving the opposition defence much chance to recover and check the attack," he said. The coach was also very satisfied with the way the Indians have played so far, but said they need to continue in the same vein keeping an eye on the future. "I think, what I expected from the boys they have delivered. But the next few months will be crucial as this is the team from where the nucleus for the future will be formed." And the future, apart from the approaching Asian Games, is the 2004 Athens Olympics. Though considered by many as the best Indian side to have played for the country in many years, Rajinder would not elaborate on which areas they have improved. "Three months back when I got the team, I knew there was a lot of hard work that needed to be put in. About the areas, I wouldn't want to talk so soon about that because I am still watching the boys under pressure or otherwise and it almost takes a year to find out who are the ones who can deliver consistently." "The important thing is not to have players who can play brilliant one day and lose form the next day. To win tournaments, you need to be consistent." He said the Indians should be as consistent as the Germans who have performed admirably well in this tournaments so far. "We had a close match but their level of play does not dip much. Even when they are losing, you can feel that they can lift their performance any minute. That is what we have to do with this team and only then can we start expecting wins on a regular basis." (PTI)

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