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India hoping to salvage pride against Germany
June 30, 2004 21:40 IST
With their hopes of a place in the final dashed after two consecutive defeats, a demoralised
India will play for pride when they take on European powerhouse Germany in their last match of the Rabobank four-nation hockey tournament in Amsterdam on Thursday.
The much-hyped specialised training in the United States seems to have borne little fruit with India looking miserably out of sorts during a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of arch-rivals Pakistan on Tuesday.
The match against Pakistan was crucial to India making it to the final after their defeat in the opening encounter to Olympic champions Holland.
But India were thoroughly exposed against a determined Pakistan side which needs to win against Holland in their last league match tomorrow to progress to the summit clash.
While Holland lead the pack with six points from two outings, both Germany and Pakistan have three points each from as many matches. India have still not opened their account and already conceded as many as eight goals.
India's coach Rajinder Singh is no doubt a worried man with neither the forward line nor the defence showing any form in a tournament that is the final lead-up to the Olympic competition in Athens in August.
"We have not played to our potential. Our forwards are missing so many goals and if you miss goals against such good teams like Holland and Pakistan, you cannot win," Rajinder Singh said.
The presence of star striker Dhanraj Pillay and veteran Baljit Singh Dhillon seems to have made little difference to the side, clearly lacking motivation and cohesion as the performances so far have shown.
India's embarrassing defeat against Pakistan was largely due to costly defensive lapses, especially on the part of Kanwalpreet Singh and goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan.
The coach made it clear that such a performance is unacceptable and exhorted his wards to pull up their socks even though there is hardly anything at stake now.
The Germans, who trounced Pakistan 6-0 but lost to Holland 3-1, will definitely go all out tomorrow to put it across India and secure a berth in the final on Sunday.
Germany, tied with Pakistan on the points table, would also be keen to ensure that they win by a big margin so that they maintain their better goal difference which could come into play in the event of Pakistan beating Holland.