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September 22, 2000
Bhaskaran confident before must-win game
Harpal Singh Bedi
India will be in a 'do or die' situation when they take on Atlanta silver medallists Spain in their crucial fourth Pool B league match of Olympic hockey championship on Saturday.
The Indians will have to pick up the threads after their 0-2 defeat against the swift Koreans on Thursday which kept their points tally at four in three outings. They have to win both league matches, the last against an up and coming Poland, to remain on track.
World Cup runner-up Spain have only two points from three matches and will also be looking for a victory to keep their hopes alive. Pool B is wide open at present with all the six teams in contention.
Asian Games champions India have a good record against Spain. India had beaten them 3-1 in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics though Spain went on to claim the silver and India finished a poor eighth. Way back in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, India had beaten Spain 4-3 in the final to win the gold, the last of eight. In the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics also India had an identical 4-3 win over them. However, in 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Spain had beaten India 2-0.
''I am confident that India will qualify for the last four,'' coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran said shrugging off the disappointment of the loss to Korea. ''One defeat cannot take away the fact that we are playing good hockey. Our first two matches were very good. Against Korea also we had our share of chances but we failed to capitalise.''
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