Antwerp, June 22 (IANS) After an unconvincing 3-2 win over France, India seek an improved performance as they face Poland in a pool A contest of the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final at the Brasschaat Municipal Park here on Tuesday.
World No.9 India required Ramandeep Singh’s 59th minute goal to edge past world No.18 France on Saturday. Their defence looked shaky and the strikers lacked in finishing.
Going by Poland’s performance in the first match where they put up a brave show against four-time World Cup winners Pakistan before going down 1-2, Paul van Ass-coached India need to play with much more caution.
Moreover, in the last match between the eight-time Olympics champions India and Poland, the former witnessed a bitter history. India were leading the crucial league match 1-0 and were almost close to sealing their place in the semi-final, when Poland’s Tomasz Cichy scored an equaliser in the dying moment and stopped India from getting into the last four.
The result was disheartening for that Indian team and this time, the Sardar Singh-led side is confident of not repeating the history.
“The defeat in Sydney Olympic is still fresh in many hockey players and we will not repeat the mistakes made in the match. We will continue our strategy of keeping the ball possession on our side and play aggressively till the last minute,” Sardar said in a release.
“The win against France boosted our morale and we have set our feet in Antwerp. We will play for the win only.
“Poland is a good team and if they are in the Semi-Final that means they have some quality players in their team. We can’t afford to take them lightly at any moment.”
The biggest positive for India from the last match was centre-half Sardar, 28. He looked at his best and was light in movements as he played crucial roles in two of the goals scored by the 2014 Asian Games champions.
Along with Sardar, midfielders Gurbaj Singh, Dharamvir Singh, Chinglensana Singh and young Lalit Upadhyay will try to create opportunities for forwards Ramandeep, Akashdeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Devindar Sunil Walmiki and Yuvraj Walmiki. The defence line-up will be formed by Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Manpreet Singh and vice-captain P.R. Sreejesh will be on the goal.
“The first match was a good one for us and we will continue our form in the next match. We are not considering Poland as minnows because they have some noticeable talents who are a cause for worry for us. We will stick to our strategies of the previous match but will make some changes in the team combinations,” India chief coach van Ass said.
“We have some good young players and I want to give them more opportunities. Having said that, we will not give any chance to Poland to dominate the match and we are looking for a win against them.”