Custodian D'Souza confident of defusing Abbas threat

Custodian D'Souza confident   of defusing Abbas threat

A confident Adrian says he is mentally prepared to take on Sohail, the world’s leading goal scorer.

The Mumbaikar believes he can counter Sohail threat though his rival has the reputation of a clean striker in world hockey.
Sohail, whose sheer individual brilliance has often changed the fortunes of his team, found Adrian a difficult customer on many occasions, particularly during the 2004-05 season when the two countries clashed quite a few times. Sohail was so impressed with the then 20-year-old Adrian’s daredevilry that he had dubbed him the best goalkeeper he had encountered.

Adrian and Sohail would renew their rivalry at the World Cup next week in Delhi when the hosts take on Pakistan in their opening match. “It will surely be a battle of wits between us,” Adrian said.

“But I know that if he is the world’s best drag flicker then I am one of the very few goalkeepers to have tackled him successfully and that will weigh on his mind.
“I have faced him a lot of times in 2004-05 and I am proud of the fact that I was the only goalkeeper to have kept his scoring rate below two goals per match. That was quite an achievement, considering his enormous reputation,” said Adrian who came into limelight when he received the best goalkeeper award after India’s win in the junior Asia Cup in Karachi in 2004.

Sohail struck twice at the Champions Challenge tournament in Argentina last December when Pakistan denied India the Champions Trophy berth by beating them 6-3 in the semifinal.
“Yes, we made some mistakes in the match and hopefully we will not repeat them. We have learnt our lessons,” said Adrian, who played 100 matches for the country.
Adrian, who played at the Athens Olympics in 2004, displacing Devesh Chauhan, was part of the team that won the Asia Cup in Chennai in 2007.

‘Very important’
Talking of the game against Pakistan, Adrian said the first match of any major tournament is crucial as it will have a bearing on the performance in the subsequent matches. “The first match is very important for any team and you can’t have tougher opponents than Pakistan, more so because of our none-too-happy track record against them in recent times.”

“It is a challenge for our team to settle down quickly as the World Cup is going to be our first major tournament in a couple of years.
“We have played bilateral series and some tournaments against tough opposition, but it has been a while since we played in a major event since  we did not qualify for the Beijing Olympics and the Champions Trophy.”

“I am happy with my form. I have been pretty consistent in the last one year and hope to continue that. We have trained hard and geared up for the tournament. I never thought that I would play in the World Cup at home. It’s exciting and a big moment for me and my family,” the Mumbaikar said.

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