The Indian team management and players will be quite satisfied with their position as they go into the match against Argentina for the 7th-8th position in the World Cup. Whatever the result, it will be much better than our 11th place finish in the last World Cup.
India will not get a better chance than this to end on a positive note, and it will give a huge fillip to the team that is in a building phase. We also need to retain the interest of the average hockey fan, which has been re-ignited by this World Cup.
A seventh place finish will also ensure that we are the first choice team to get into the Champions Trophy in case one of the top six cannot make it for some reason.
One can’t help but look back with a tinge of regret at what could have been achieved after our rousing performance against Pakistan in the opener. Our performance plumbed thereafter and had it not been for Shivendra Singh’s last-minute equaliser against South Africa, we would have been playing for 9th-10th position.
Let bygones be bygones, it’s time to look ahead to the match against Argentina and their talented players, most of whom are plying their trade in the Dutch Premier League.
Having played in four World Cups, I know how tough it is to motivate oneself to play classification matches and India will have to live up to its reputation of being a mentally strong team moulded by coach Brasa. It is high time Sandeep Singh shows his class and converts some penalty-corners, as India will always be at a disadvantage if he does not pull his weight in PC conversions.
India will have to be at their physical best to combat the body play of the Argentineans. They will be looking to use their body to block our speedy forwards Shivendra, Arjun Halappa and Rajpal. It will be very important for us to push players forward in numbers so that they are at hand to help the forwards. I would advise the forwards to refrain from carrying the ball for too long. Instead, they should opt for the short wall-to-wall passes, which would require our players to work in close proximity. PMG