In­dia seek to write own script

Con­fi­dent hosts will look for win over Canada to earn di­rect QF ticket with­out de­pend­ing on other match’s re­sult

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - DNA Cor­re­spon­dent [email protected]­

Mumbai: The In­dian hockey team will seek to write its own script and sail straight into the quar­ter­fi­nals with­out re­ly­ing on the other match’s re­sult with a vic­tory over Canada in its fi­nal league en­counter in Bhubaneswar on Satur­day.

In­dia are cur­renty level on points with Bel­gium but sit atop Pool C due to a su­pe­rior goal dif­fer­ence of +4 over the Red Lions.

Should In­dia beat the world No. 11 Cana­di­ans, they ought to have lit­tle problems in en­ter­ing the last eight di­rectly with­out hav­ing to go through a must-win cross­over stage, which is for the sec­ond and third placed teams of each group.

Not only will a di­rect quar­ter­fi­nals ticket give the hosts the lib­erty of more rest days by not play­ing an ex­tra match, it will also give the boys a huge shot of con­fi­dence go­ing into the busi­ness end of the tour­na­ment.

Should In­dia draw or lose, they will have to hope that Bel­gium too have a bad day in the of­fice against South Africa. The good thing for the In­di­ans, though, is that they will play af­ter the Red Lions’ match, which will give them a clear pic­ture of what to do in their quest of a quar­ter­fi­nal spot.

In­dia head coach Haren­dra Singh, how­ever, doesn’t want to leave any­thing to chance. “Our tar­get is to top the pool ir­re­spec­tive of the re­sult of Bel­gium vs South Africa game. Our fate is in our own hands,” Haren­dra said on the eve of the game on Fri­day.

“We ex­pect two things. One, I need to fin­ish on top. The other, I want a clean sheet and no goals scored against In­dia,” he added.

The Man­preet Singh-led young Team In­dia has been fairly im­pres­sive in the tour­na­ment so far, thrash­ing South Africa 5-0 in their opener and then ral­ly­ing to hold the higher-ranked Bel­gians 2-2.

Canada, though, will pose a tricky chal­lenge for the hosts, hav­ing drawn with In­dia in the 2016 Rio Olympics and beaten them in the Hockey World League Semi-fi­nals in Lon­don last year.

And with the low­es­tranked team in the com­pe­ti­tion, France, man­ag­ing to shock Olympic cham­pi­ons Ar­gentina on Thurs­day, In­dia will have to en­sure that they are at the top of their game to avoid an up­set.

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