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India need big win against SA to keep last hope alive

South Africa may not be a serious contender but is not an easy team to beat, going by the form the Indians.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2006 23:45 IST

The Indian hockey team is at crossroads in the 11th World cup and the side not only needs a big win against South Africa in their third league match but also need to hope that Germany beats Holland in the other game to keep their hopes alive in the tournament.

The Indian predicament is of their own making. They lost the opening match against Germany which they should have drawn easily. And in their second tie they allowed England to go on a second-half scoring blitz after having taken the lead in the first session.

South Africa may not be a serious contender but is not an easy team to beat and going by the form the Indians have displayed so far, it is looking like a tough task for them.

It is a do or die situation for the former Asian Giants and they have to win all the three remaining league matches to keep their slender hopes alive.

India had beaten South Africa in the Olympics and again in the Commonwealth Games in March, but they would like to forget that victory because the African champions had given them a run for their money.

And the way the former Asian giants have played so far it will not be surprising if the South Africans fancy themselves as winners in this crucial league match.

Though the South Africans lost their opener against formidable Holland 0-2 but they did create problems for the Dutch. The Africans matched their rivals and the title contenders had to work hard for their win.

The Africans proved that they are no minnows and the Indians will have to redraw their plans after watching Africa play Holland. In the two matches so far, apart from the brief second half display in the opening match, the Indians have left much to be desired.

Nothing has gone right for them so far. The forwards have lacked imagination and seemed to be playing without any game plan and their two match display makes it look that they have a very tough hurdle to cross.

Tomorrow, not only Indians have to win but also have to worry about the other match between Germany and Holland.

Defending champions Germany are not unbeatable but with a win against India, they are sniffing a chance of making it to the last four and they will not allow strong contenders Holland any easy access.

A German win means Holland losing two matches and that will open up the pool'B'. Forwards Gagan Ajit, Tejbir, Tushar Khandekar, Rajpal Singh and Hari Prasad will have to be more imaginative.

First Published: Sep 08, 2006 15:49 IST