India take on China in must-win encounter

 With very little time to recover after losing to their arch-rivals Pakistan, the Indian men’s hockey time will have no scope for errors when they lock horns with China in the crucial final Group B game.

With both China and India stuck on six points from three games, the match is a virtual quarterfinal for the two sides although India have a slender edge needing just a draw at the Seonhak Stadium. India have a goal difference of +14 as compared to China’s +9.On paper, Indians appear strong for China having beaten them three times out of the four meetings at the continental bash. However, the Chinese showed they are not here to make up the numbers when they troubled Pakistan before losing 1-2. With a semifinal berth at stake, they would be determined to cause a stunner.

India have to quickly get their bearings right. Against Pakistan, they appeared sluggish with the attack lacking the bite and midfield rarely stitching together meaningful passes. The defence too crumbled when called upon, showing the amount of work that needs to be done.

“We have seen China stifle Pakistan with goals only coming from rare chances in the third and fourth quarters,” coach Terry Walsh said. “This game could be very tight and the focus will be on our effectiveness inside the attacking scoring zone. Chances will need to be created with quality ball control. Good decisions must be made to open up the Chinese defence. We must bring the energy necessary for this crucial contest,” added the Australian.

Eves in semis

The Indian women’s team put their last-gasp loss against China behind to thump Malaysia 6-1 and march into the semifinals. Rani and Jaspreet Kaur scored a brace each while Namita Toppo and Vandana Kataria nailed one apiece as Indian secured their first target of reaching the knockouts.


Women: Pool A: China 5 (Mengyu Wang 3rd and 5th, Yang Peng 13th, Yudiao Zhao 28th, Xiayun Xi 33rd) bt Thailand 0; Malaysia 1 (Nadia Rahman) lost to India 6 (Rani 4th, 28th, Jaspreet Kaur 9th, 39th, Namita Toppo 17th, Vandana Kataria 50th). Pool B: Kazakhstan 0 lost to Japan 8 (Mazuki Arai 6th, 11th and 52nd, Akane Shibata 13th and 15th, Mayumi Ono 17th and 50th, Yoshino Kasahara 25th); South Korea 8 (Youngsil Lee 8th and 35th, Jaeseong Heo 10th, Hyunji Kim 11th and 45th, Eunbi Cheon 13th and 49th, Jongeun Kim 29th) bt  Hong Kong 0.

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