Aussie test awaits Indians

Hockey World League Final

Aussie test awaits Indians

Reinvigorated hosts take on Kookaburras in quarterfinals today

After two miserable losses, India finally backed themselves to challenge World No 1 and Olympic champions Germany with an improved performance in the last league match of Hero Hockey World League. The 3-3 draw must have spurred the home side ahead of their quarterfinal clash against World champions Australia on Wednesday.

India surprised many with their organised play against Germany and came inches close to pulling of a shock victory when they went up 3-2. They, in fact, held the lead till the 68th minute before callousness crept in and Germany levelled. Yet there were a lot of positives which India can take from the match. India wove some good moves and even defence responded with a lot of vigour.

Against Australia, India will need to sustain this level to put up a good fight. Captain Sardar Singh admitted the performance against Germany had motivated the side. “We will try to do even better. Our performance against Germany has motivated us. We played with self belief. We will try to not to repeat mistakes we did against Germany,” Sardar said.

Coach Terry Walsh was appreciative of his wards’ improved showing but was quick to add that they still had a long way to go. “One sunny day does not make it a summer. Yes, we did several things better. We tried to improve in several areas and worked much more to contribute against a quality opponent. But we have to improve a lot and need to be honest about it,” Walsh said.

 “Australia is a very high quality opponent. It will be a big challenge for us to be organised. We will try and keep our level up. We will give whatever we can.”

Australia, on the other hand, rediscovered their form against the surprise package of the tournament, Argentina,  on Monday. The World No 2 side crushed the Pan American champions in a 6-1 goalfest.

“We need to play with high intensity and put as much pressure on the opposition as we can,” said Australian striker Russell Ford.

In the other matches, Belgium will hope to score their first win in the tournament against England while Argentina meets New Zealand in the hope to create another upset. Germany and the Netherlands square up in the rematch of the 2012 London Olympics final.

“We made mistakes in the match against India, but we only make mistakes once. Playing the Netherlands is the only motivation we need,” German goalkeeper Tim Jessalut said.

Quarterfinal line-up: England vs Belgium (1.15 pm); Germany vs Netherlands (3.30 pm); Argentina vs New Zealand (5.45 pm); Australia vs India (8.00 pm). 

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