Out of the podium race in the Hero Junior Men's Hockey World Cup, India have a chance to redeem some pride with a win over arch-rivals Pakistan in the 9-10th place classification match but national coach Baljit Singh Saini refused to treat the high-profile fixture as a "special" encounter.
India rode on Ramandeep Singh's two field goals and penalty corner conversions from Amit Rohidas and Gurjinder Singh to beat Argentina 4-2 at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here and set up a mouth-watering clash against Pakistan in the classification match on Saturday.
"India-Pakistan encounters may be special for spectators and media but not for us. We can't treat it as a special match because if we do so there are chances of committing mistakes. We will take it as just another game," Saini told reporters.
"But I must admit pressure would be there on the boys before the match but once they take the field it is like just another game."
With a top eight finish out of sight, Saini said India will do its best to finish as high as possible in the 16-team competition.
"We had high expectations from this tournament but now we are playing for pride. We are definitely disappointed that we couldn't finish in top eight. But the good thing to take from this tournament is that we lost only to one world class team so far," he said.
Saini was of the view that conceding soft goals early in the tournament crushed their medal hopes.
"In the pool stages we conceded goals in the first 10 minutes and that disturbed our game plan. The boys are young and they will learn with experience," he said.
Ramadeep, who finally rose to the occasion with two brilliant field goals against Argentina, is a doubtful starter against Pakistan after injuring his shoulder in the dying stages of the match.
"We still don't know the extent of Ramandeep's injury. It seems he did not dislocate his shoulder but he is in immense pain. We can take a call on him only after assessing his medical reports," the coach added.
Photograph: Hockey India