India will take on Malaysia in the round of last eight of Hockey World League Semifinals in Antwerp, Belgium on Wednesday. India finished second in Group A, hence are scheduled to meet Malaysia, who finished third in Group B.
India lost their last group match against Australia 6-2. But their performance in the competition cannot be judged by their only loss. They drew with Pakistan after defeating France and Poland.
India, as a result mentioned above, finished second in Group A and hence scheduled to meet Malaysia, who finished third in Group B, in the round of last eight in Antwerp, Belgium.
Meanwhile, Malaysia finished third in Group B. They lost and won two each to secure a berth to play against India. They launched their campaign with two consecutive wins against comparatively weak China and Ireland.
They could not tackle tough challenge from Belgium and Great Britain. Eventually they succumbed to back to back to losses. However, India can’t take them lightly as Malaysia defeated men in blue 3-2 in the Azlan Shah Cup a few months ago.
As both the teams are quite familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses, the clash will be an entertaining one.
India’s Coach Paul Van Ass, who adopted total hockey style of play, said his men learned some important lessons during the group matches.
“We ought to take the lessons learnt from this game into the quarterfinal contest with Malaysia,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. “There were some valuable lessons learnt during the during the pool matches here,” he further added.
India have a few key issue to improve. The defense was sloppy and looked clue less to the constant threat of Aussies. So, in the match against Malaysia , India defenders need to brace themselves for a feisty encounter against the Malaysians, who are an aggressive side.
In the match against the Australians, Indians finished distant second best in all departments of the game. Dutch national and India head coach Paul Van Ass wants his players to set the pace against Malaysia.
In the midfield Sradar Singh and Ramandeep Singh are in good goal scoring form. But India is not good in converting penalty corner into goal throughout the tournament as they are missing their number 1 drag-flicker.
“We should be able to set the pace of the match,” said Van Ass. “Against Australia, we could do little when we got caught in the rhythm set by the world champions.”
Hence, to turn around the fortune in their favour, they not only have to dicate the pace, but players need to find a way to make use of their penalty corners.
Under Coach Van Ass India is improving, since the Dutch national coach took the rein of India as the former coach Terence Walsh stepped down from the managerial post following a fracas between him and Hockey India- governing body of Indian hockey.
India finished third in the 2015 Azlan Shah Cup, they have been improving under the guidance of Van Ass, who has been shaping the team to prepare for Rio Olympics 2016. Another victory in the HWL will not only grab the semi-finals spot, but also help them increase their level of confidence.
Time: 9:30 IST
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