Hockey: India must tighten defence vs Poland

Antwerp: Neither coach Paul Van Ass nor captain Sardar Singh were amused when asked whether they were here as 'tourists' since they were already assured of a berth at the 2016 Rio Olympics and what did they hope to achieve from the ongoing event.

Sardar Singh
Sardar Singh 

As Van Ass kept quiet, Sardar answered, "We are certainly not here without a plan and we are not tourists. Sure, we have qualified for the Olympics, but we are also working towards upcoming events and of course the Olympics."

About the second match against Poland today, he added: "We want to perform well and want to do well here as much as any other team to finish high up in the Semi-finals of the World League and also do well in the World League Finals, which will be hosted by India later this year."

Whatever the result, it is clear that Coach Van Ass and Sardar as also Roelant Oltmans (High Performance Director), who is also here, are experimenting with various strategies and players in different roles.

India were made to struggle for a 3-2 win over France in the opening match. While the Indian coach and captain preferred to dwell on the positives, they would also have taken into account the fact that France were whipped 10-0 by Australia in another match a day later on Sunday. India meet Australia and Pakistan later.

Poland, who have always been a team that relies on crowded defence and long clearances, gave Pakistan a rough time in the opening match. Like India, Pakistan needed a late goal, six minutes from finish for the win.

Against the Polish, the Indians will once again need to be tighter in defence especially against the penalty corners. India have had the tendency to concede penalty corners when under pressure, and the Poles have a strong penalty corner specialist in Pawel Bratkowski.

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