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Hockey Junior World Cup: India cautious ahead of tough game against England

India made a rousing start to their campaign in the Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup when they notched up a fascinating 4-0 win against lowly Canada.

other sports Updated: Dec 10, 2016 17:19 IST
Sharad Deep
Hockey Junior World Cup

India will face England in their second match of the 2016 Hockey Junior World Cup.(HT Photo)

The Indian hockey team believes in thinking of one match at a time. They find it the best thing to do before a game as coach Harendra Singh’s mantra of success to players is to take one step forward at a time.

This not only helps the team to draw a certain plan for the opponents, but also lets the players to focus on short and achievable targets and captain Harjeet Singh has a firm belief in this concept.

“Our match against Canada is over, and now we are focused on our plans for the game against England tomorrow,” Harjeet was quick to say ahead of team’s training on Friday. “Every match is a challenge for us and we are not taking any rivals lightly,” he added.

Certainly, after having a rousing start to their campaign in the Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup, when they notched up a fascinating 4-0 win against lowly Canada, former champions and hosts India would look to continue their winning streak when they take on energetic England in their second encounter of Group D here on Saturday.

Considered as favourites for the cup along with six-time champions Germany, India were far superior to Canada in the opening game, but had to face some tough challenge from rival custodian Iqwinder Gill and drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh couldn’t beat him on both the occasions in the first half.

Out of total six penalty corners, India could convert just one, and that’s one area where they need to come good against England. “It’s normal in a game when you don’t have a control over proceedings, but the best thing was that we played a good hockey and won against Canada,” Harmanpreet had said after the match.

A win in Saturday’s match would put India into quarterfinals from Group C, but they would be aiming to finish on top in order to maintain their all-win record in the preliminary stages. “We are looking to end our 15-year-old title drought in the event and for me the event tool holds a lot of personal importance as now the time has come when we should let others know that how strong our juniors are in the world too,” Harendra said.

“We have learnt many things from our match against Canada though we won easily, and I believe that boys should apply those experiences in the further matches to show better,” said the coach, who always finds team’s victories at Asia Cup and four-nation event in Valencia as great motivators for the players.

England have also enjoyed a fine showing in the event till now, beating South Africa 4-2 in their opening encounter on Thursday, and under estimating them would be a big mistake for India, which would have the local support from the stands.

Coach Jon Bleby has already made his intentions clear by saying they are aiming for an upset in the match against India. “They (India) are a good side, and they are playing on home turf, but at the same time we are also up for a challenge. We would try to win and make an upset here,” he said.

Meanwhile, in group matches on Friday, Belgium beat Egypt 4-0 in Pool B, Austria split points with Argentina by playing a 1-1 draw in Pool A, and Spain beat Japan 4-1 in Pool C.