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India keen to make amends
September 08, 2006 20:07 IST
Reeling under two defeats on the trot, the Indian hockey team will have to conjure up an extraordinary display and win by a big margin when they take on South Africa in a crucial World Cup match in tie in Monchengladbach, Germany, on Saturday.
Having lost 3-2 to both Germany and England, India are precariously placed at the bottom of the six-team Pool B and unless they regroup, their campaign in the prestigious championship may come to an early end.
Coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran put up a brave front, unwilling to write off his boys yet.
"I would say our position is critical, but we still have five more matches, including the two classification games, to make amends for our defeats," he said on Friday as the team enjoyed a day's break.
Looking ahead to Saturday's game against South Africa, Bhaskaran felt the team can win only if the players put behind them the two defeats and play positively.
"Of course, the boys were extremely disappointed by the two defeats, but we spent some time together talking about the matches and I am pretty confident that they will bounce back in time for the game against South Africa tomorrow," he said.
He admitted that the going would not be easy against the 10th ranked South Africans, who put up a determined show last night before going down 2-0 to the Netherlands.
"We expect tight man-to-man marking from the South Africans just like they did against the Dutch. So, it would not be easy to break their defence. However, I believe we have the ability to counter such tactics. Tonight, we will be planning out our strategies during our video session, and as I said earlier, we are confident of doing well," Bhaskaran said.
The South Africans a torrid time to the Dutch, who were anxious to chalk their first points following their shock reverse against Korea.
"We are in much the same position as the Dutch were when they took on the South Africans. I would say our position is critical at this moment," the coach said.
Bhaskaran revealed that he would be making certain changes in the 16 by including rookie full-back V Raghunath, who will thus be making his international debut at the senior level.
"We are still to take a final decision, but it is quite likely that we will play Raghunath tomorrow. Also, we need to take a call on goalkeeper Bharat Chettri, who suffered a hit on his shoulder. We will also be looking at the energy levels of the players and take a final decision on whom to play," he said.
Saturday's fixtures (IST): India vs South Africa (1630); Germany vs Netherlands (1845); Japan vs New Zealand (2100); Australia vs Argentina ((2300).