After their lacklustre win against Canada on Saturday, India juniors are in a must-win situation as they take on Korea here on Tuesday. Only a win could guarantee their stay in the Junior Hockey World Cup being played here at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium.
After a 2-3 loss to The Netherlands in their opening encounter, a 3-2 win against Canada made matters worse for the hosts as Korea had earlier pumped in seven goals against the same opponent. Now, India cannot afford to lose or draw against Korea in their final Pool C game if they hope to seal a quarterfinal berth.
The Netherlands have already made it to the last eight and Korea can reach there with even a draw against India.
The Manpreet Singh-led Indian team has managed to impress with their ball control in the first two games. However, the age-old problem of failing to convert chances haunts them. The forward line comprising Mandeep, Ramandeep , Malak and Talwinder Singh have so far failed to justify their top billing. Only Akashdeep Singh has managed two goals in the two games.
Ramandeep fetched the highest bid of Rs 50 lakh during the Hockey India League auctions, however, his performance so far has not been commendable.
On the other hand, drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh has rescued India in the both games with timely conversions despite his forwards not winning him enough opportunities. India chief coach Gregg Clark admitted that after Canada game his players need to improve their conversion rate against Korea.
“Statistically, we did lot of right movements like circle entry and created a lot of chances in the opposite end of the field in our first two games. We created fairly good chances and would like to stick with the same in future. I have confidence that the boys will do well against Korea,” said Clark.
India can take heart from the fact that 13 of the Korean players here are from the side that lost to India at the Sultan of Johor Cup recently.
Playing Today (Live on Ten Sports)
India vs Korea 8pm
Germany vs Egypt, 2pm
Belgium vs Pakistan, 4pm
Netherlands vs Canada, 6pm