Let the goals flow!
With six points in the kitty, India are virtually through to the semis. But they can’t let up vs Korea, reports Uthra Ganesan.Updated: Sep 03, 2007, 00:49 IST
A day after raining goals by the dozen against Sri Lanka and a day before of their crucial match against Korea, the Indian hockey team decided to take a break. As a result, the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium - the venue for the team's early morning practice - wore a deserted look.
But then, the hosts can probably afford to skip training. Coach Joaquim Carvalho said that the team had a weight training session in the morning and decided to rest for the remaining day.
With six points from two games and comparative lightweights Thailand and Bangladesh up ahead, India are virtually assured of semifinal berth. A win against Korea would only ensure they make it there on a high.
And India's performances in the two games have given enough reason to believe they can pull off a win on Monday. The defence has held up and the midfield has been hard at work, both at creating chances as well as keeping the opposition at bay.
However, a cause of concern for Indian coach Joaquim Carvalho might be the failure of penalty-corner specialist Raghunath in converting them. India have so far earned almost a dozen PCs so far but have been able to convert only two, one of them by Dilip Tirkey.
In contrast, in Jong Hyun Jang, the Koreans have a penalty corner expert who has been on fire so far. Converting PCs has been their biggest strength, something the Indians are aware of and are keen to contain.
“They are fast in their counter attacks and are very good in penalty corners, so we hope to deny them those and not give room for counters,” said a senior player of the team.
The profligacy displayed by the strikers against China is also something Carvalho would be looking into. Missing so many chances could prove costly against tougher opponents.
Goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza is expected to continue on the bench for the third straight game due to fever. His replacement, Baljit Singh, who has not really been tested so far, will continue.
With nine players in their ranks having over 100 international caps, the Koreans are an experienced bunch.
However, having already qualified for the Olympics, this would be the ideal opportunity for them to test their youngsters.
The Indians would hope to cash in on that, though wary that the Koreans could well cause a defeat, especially after Japan's shock win over Pakistan on Saturday.