India seek top spot as they face Australia 

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Antwerp, June 27 (IANS) India seek to top Pool A as they face world champions Australia in their last match before the quarter-finals of the 10-nation Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final at the Brasschaat Municipal Park here on Sunday.

Paul van Ass-coached India have seven points from three matches with two wins and a draw, while world No.1 Australia are on top of the pool with three consecutive wins over France, Poland and Pakistan.

Pakistan will face fourth placed France and a win will take the Asian giant’s tally to seven. If 2014 Asian Games champions India lose against 2012 Olympics bronze medallists Australia, then the second best team will be decided on the goal difference. Poland are out of the quarter-finals race following their four consecutive losses.

World No.9 India registered back-to-back wins over France and Poland before being held by traditional rivals Pakistan 2-2 on Friday. And now they have a big task ahead of them in the form of Australia.

Captain Sardar Singh said: “We have to keep the momentum going and work on our conversions. While, in our game against Pakistan we stuck to our plan what comes out clearly is that we have to capitalise on the opportunities.

“For tomorrow we have to ensure that we take the all important passes and score the goals. Australia has a very good defence and hence we have to be quick in breaking their defence chain.”

Having showcased brilliant play in the recent clashes against Australia, India are all excited to meet the fancied Kookaburras.

India last met Australia during the 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia where India beat the Aussies 4-2 in the league match. Before that, India lost to Australia 1-2 in the Champions Trophy 2014 where both the teams were playing for the third position. In October 2014, India registered a rare series win over Australia Down Under.

Ahead of Sunday’s game, India chief coach van Ass said: “The boys showcased good skilful hockey yesterday against Pakistan and for tomorrow they have to step it up.

“They have to create and convert the penalty corners. What was missing yesterday was that we missed on the vital passes which would have helped us to score. The boys understand this and they know they have to work on this immediately.”

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