Following their crushing defeat to Australia that put them out of the reckoning for the semis, hosts India aim to salvage some pride and look to upset Olympic champions Germany in the fifth-eighth play-off game of the hockey World League Final on Friday in New Delhi.
India squandered a two-goal lead against world champions Australia to suffer a 2-7 hammering in the quarterfinal of the tournament on Thursday. India took the initial two-goal lead but were bulldozed by the opposition as they scored seven to cruise to the semis. Germany, too have not been in form in the tournament, losing their quarterfinal tie 1-2 against Netherlands.
While Germany finished with one win, one draw and one loss in their three matches, India remained win-less, losing two and drawing one.
The group-stage game between these two sides ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw, a result that pleased Indian coach Terry Walsh and should be an inspiration for the Sardar Singh-led side ahead of the playoff game.
In the initial period against Australia, the Indian midfield and forwardline co-ordinated well to put the opposition on the back foot. But as the match progressed, the hosts were beaten due to fatigue and physical fitness of the Australians. Chief coach Terry Walsh too agreed that India lost out to Australia on physical fitness, saying after the early domination, the hosts "ran into a wall" as far as physiology was concerned. "It was a very positive start. Australia were disintegrated in the first 20 minutes but physiologically we ran into a wall. Australia were much more stronger and powerful than us. Australia are physically much more superior than us," Walsh had said.
In the 3-3 draw against Germany too, India proved to be the better side throughout the game and Walsh hopes his team can keep that going and improve the scoreline.
If India lose Friday's encounter, they will face either Belgium or Argentina to avoid the wooden spoon on Saturday. Meanwhile, in other matches of the day, England will take on New Zealand in the first semifinal, while Australia will square off against Neherlands in the second.