Battle of equals in offing as India face Korea in Azlan Shah
Back in the groove with the thumping victory over arch-rivals Pakistan, India will seek to continue their winning momentum when they take on Korea in their third league match of the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Ipoh on Sunday.
India defeated Pakistan 4-2, three of which came in the second half, to register their first win in the tournament yesterday after a dismal show in their opening match against a lowly China where they needed a goal 17 seconds from the hooter to snatch a 1-1 draw.
India will also go into the match with an upper hand over Korea after having thrashed then 7-2 in their last meeting at the 2007 Asia Cup final in Chennai.
The Indians, however, cannot afford to be complacent on Sunday as after their shocking 1-1 draw against hosts Malaysia on Saturday, the nimble-footed Koreans will be desperate to return to winning ways.
The Koreans started their campaign in style, outclassing Egypt 6-0 in their tournament opener but failed to live up to expectation yesterday and slumped to the unexpected draw.
India's national coach Harendra Singh had already warned the players not to get carried away after the Pakistan win and said tomorrow's match against korea would be battle of equals.
"Do not read much into the win over Pakistan for there are many areas we need to work on and improve upon. The Koreans are a fast and skillful side and it will be an interesting match given the fact that both teams have dropped two points from drawn matches," Harendra said.
Notwithstanding the draw against Malaysia, Korean coach Shin Seok Kyo was optimistic about his team's chances in tomorrow's crucial encounter against India.
"It will be totally different as we have analysed the performance of the Indian team. We have all the respect for them as they are playing with such passion as evident in their match against Pakistan. But the three points are vital towards our quest to make the finals," Shin said.
Shin said that the Koreans need to work on their penalty corner conversion against India as specialist Nam Hyun Woo was not at his best against Malaysia.
"He (Nam) had difficulty against the Malaysians. So we had to utilise variations and that too was a tough task as the Malaysian keeper was very agile and read our moves well.
"Thus against India we have to make some adjustments and come out with variations as chances in open play will be few in between," he had said.
With a win and draw from their two outings, India and Korea have four points but the Koreans are atop the points table because of a better goal difference.