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India need big win against South Africa
March 21, 2006 16:17 IST
India need a big victory against South Africa in their last league match on Wednesday and hope that Malaysia does not win or draw against Pakistan, in the men's hockey competition at the Commonwealth Games.
The Indian team's predicament is their own making. They drew against Malaysia, a match they should have won easily, allowed Pakistan to go on a scoring blitz, and conceded a crucial goal against the lowly Trinidad and Tobago.
South Africa is not an easy team to beat. The African champions surprised Pakistan with a draw and narrowly missed creating an upset against Malaysia on Tuesday.
The Indian forwards have shown a lack of imagination in the earlier matches and seem to be playing without any game plan. The way they missed chances, it looks that they have a very tough hurdle to cross.
Malaysia are sniffing a chance of making it to the last four and will not allow Pakistan any easy access.
Even a big victory against South Africa may not sort India's problems as Malaysia and Pakistan play after their match.
In case India wins by a two-goal margin and Malaysia loses by one goal, Malaysia will be through because of a better goal difference. So, both India and Pakistan have to win, no matter what.
The Indian forwards -- Deepak Thakur, Tejbir Singh, Tushar Khandekar and Rajpal Singh -- will have to be more imaginative. There is no use playing to the galleries. The dribbling and stick work earns applause from the crowds, but cannot fetch the goals, something India need badly on the morrow.
Surprisingly, against Pakistan the normally dependable Indian midfield also looked tentative. The trio of Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey and Vikram Pillay failed to supplement the forwards who, in any case, were wayward.
The Indians seemed to be dependent on penalty-corner expert Sandeep Singh, but even he is not in his element. Though he scored four goals against lowly Trinidad and Tabago -- three of them were penalty-corner conversions -- he muffed up at least another seven penalty-corners.
The defence, in the absence of Harpal Singh, also looks vulnerable and it was quite visible against Malaysia and Pakistan. Kanwalpreet and Sandeep certainly have their work cut out.
The South Africans will also be going in with a game plan.
They are in the same position as India and if they win and Malaysia loses to Pakistan, they will be through. This very thought must be a big morale-boosting factor for the Africans.
While playing against South Africa, the outcome of the next match between Pakistan and Malaysia will be weighing heavily on the Indian minds and that can prove dangerous. The Indians will have to remain focused on their match and leave the rest to luck.UNI