|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
India face do-or-die battle
December 09, 2006 15:13 IST
Having pulled themselves out of the pit with a big win in the last match against Oman, India face a do or die situation when they take on Korea in their last Asian Games Group-B men's hockey league match in Doha on Sunday.
The huge 9-0 victory over Oman has given them an outside chance of still making it to the semi-finals and they have no other option but to beat strong contenders Korea to achieve their objective.
It definitely is a daunting task as the Koreans have been in excellent form in this competition and it will need a huge spark of inspiration to put it across their fancied rivals.
India were now placed in the third position with six points from three matches while Korea topped the group with nine points followed by China who also had 9 points.
India have a goal difference of +14 while Korea has +21, which means that Vasudevan Baskaran's men have only to beat the Koreans to be able to go ahead of the Chinese who have a goal difference of +6 after playing all the matches at league stage.
They find themselves in such a predicament only because of their shock defeat at the hands of China who have made rapid strides in the game in the last couple of years.
The heartnening feature in the game against Oman was that the Indians managed to convert a number of penalty corners which was regarded as one of their weak areas.
While captain Dilip Tirkey is happy with the overall performance in the last game, he is worried that the counter-attacks have not brought about the desired results.
"Our penalty corners were good in the last match but we still have to improve a lot. Our counter-attacks have to be good and we cannot afford to miss any chances against the Koreans", Tirkey said.
"The Koareans have many strong players. Our defence has to be really very good", he said.
Shivendra Singh, Tushar Khandekar and Hari Prasad were among the goal scorers in the last match and should fire again in the crucial match at the Al-Rayyan hockey stadium.
The experienced Tirkey himself has a big role to play against the nippy Koreans who are exected to keep the Indian defenders on tenterhooks for most part of the game.
If the Indians lose the match, it will be disastrous for them for more than one way. Besides ending up without a medal, the defeat to Korea will mean that India will have to go through the qualifying process to secure a berth in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Doha Asian Games 2006: The Complete Coverage