New Delhi: With their backs to the wall, hosts India have no other option but to win in a tricky encounter against Korea in their do-or-die final Pool C match to progress to the quarterfinals of the Junior World Cup hockey here on Tuesday.
After a 2-3 defeat against formidable Netherlands in their tournament opener, India kept themselves in the hunt for the knockout stage by eking out a hard-fought 3-2 win over Canada in their next match at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.
But India cannot afford either a loss or a draw against Korea in their final pool match to secure their quarterfinal berth.
Both India and Korea are on three points each from two outings but Korea have a better goal difference and a draw would be enough for them to pip the home team and go forward.
With two wins out of as many games, Netherlands have already qualified for the quarterfinals from Pool C.
The Manpreet Singh-led Indian outfit has some thinking to do ahead of the crucial match as less formidable Canada made it toil hard for the 3-2 win which came in the dying stages of the match, courtesy a penalty corner conversion by Gurjinder Singh.
Against Canada, India were by far the better side on display but missed chances were the order of the day for the hosts as they ended up making life difficult for themselves.
India's chief coach Greg Clark too admitted that his wards need to be more accurate against a dangerous opponent like Korea.
"We really got good chances in the last matches. We created fairly good chances and would like to stick with the same in future matches," he said.
"I have full confidence that the boys will do well in the next match against Korea like they did in the last match against Canada. Statistically we did lot of right movements like circle entry and created a lot of chances in the opposite end of the field," Clark said.
"The Koreans are a good side; they have consistently performed well in the tournament. The match will be difficult but we have confidence in ourselves. Our performance has constantly improved. But we got to be more accurate in our next encounters."
Fully aware of the task at hand, Clark said that his wards will give their best in the must-win match tomorrow.
"I have full confidence that the boys will do well in the next match against Korea like they did in the last match against Canada.
"Our experience shows that the team gets comfortable with environment as the tournament progresses and performs better with every match. We will definitely put our best show (against Korea)," he insisted.
Eve though India boast of a strong forwardline in Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Malak Singh and Talwinder Singh, they are yet to fire in the tournament.
The mid-field, however, is in the safe hands of skipper Manpreet Singh.
But it is the backline which would be a cause of concern for the hosts as they conceded soft goals in their first two matches against Netherlands and Canada.
To add to it, the Manpreet Singh-led Indian outfit will be under pressure to at least repeat the podium finish its women counterparts achieved when they won a historic bronze at Mochengladbach, Germany earlier this year.
Korea, on the other hand, can afford to relax a bit as they only need a draw to progress to the knock-out stage.
After thrashing Canada 7-4 in their opening match, Korea lost 2-3 to Netherlands in the next game.
But with a goal difference of two against India's nil, they are better placed than the hosts and need only a point to break the hearts of the home crowd.