Incheon: After clumping to a close 1-2 defeat at the hands of China, Indian women's hockey team will be eyeing an outright win against Malaysia in their final Pool A match to seal a semifinal berth at the 17th Asian Games, here on Thursday.
Even though a draw against Malaysia would be enough for the Indians eves to progress to the semifinals as the second best team from Pool A, the Ritu Rani-led side would definitely want to end their pool engagements on a high at the Soenhak Hockey Stadium here. (Also read: Indian men go down to Pakistan)
With two wins from as many games, China are leading the pool and expected to beat lowly Thailand in their last encounter.
India and Malaysia, on the other hand, have equal points having managed a win and a loss each in as many games.
But India have slight edge over the Malaysians as they have better goal difference. India have a goal difference of plus two over Malaysia (0) and a draw tomorrow would definitely secure their last four place.
Come tomorrow, the Indians eves would fancy their chances and would definitely start as favourites against Malaysia.
The head-to-head record, too, favour India as they have defeated Malaysia on both the occasions the two teams had faced each other in the Asian Games.
In the 2006 Doha Asian Games, India defeated Malaysia 4-2 and then four years later in Guangzhou the Indians spanked the same opponents 4-0.
Most recently, India whitewashed Malaysia in their own backyard in a six-Test series, organised earlier this year as part of preparation for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the ongoing Asian Games.
India's chief coach Neil Hawgood said the impressive performance against China have boosted the confidence of his wards but warned his side against complacency.
"The girls fought really well in the last match. Losing the match in the dying minutes was a matter of bad luck for us. This is like a quarter-final match, where we have to win. The performance against sixth ranked China gave us confidence and the group now knows where it is in this contest," Hawgood said.