Antwerp: India hockey coach Paul Van Ass and captain Sardar Singh are quite happy with the way the youngsters are putting their hands up and performing well at the ongoing Hockey World League Semi-finals in Antwerp. Despite some of the seniors, either sitting out or not here, the team has logged in two wins (3-2 vs France & 3-0 vs Poland) in two matches.

Paul Van Ass
Paul Van Ass 

Amidst these wins there is also a concern though. That of India's inability to convert penalty corners which could prove costly against stronger teams.

Rupinder hope
"We are a bit weak in that (penalty corners) at the moment. Rupinder Pal Singh is not totally fit, so maybe against Pakistan he will be on the pitch. And of course, Raghunath is at home due to injury.

Of course India has still scored off the flick, but we are still working on it," said Van Ass adding that though things will be better when Rupinder returns and Raghunath is fit, he is also keen to develop Manpreet Singh, whose conversion through a drag flick was the lone success from six penalty corners — three in each match — achieved by the Indians here.

Rupinder sustained an injury during the warm-up games here in Antwerp, after coming in as a replacement for Raghunath in the original squad. On Tuesday he trained with the Indian team ahead of the match, indicating he is likely to be ready for the next outing against Pakistan on Friday. "Yes, Rupinder should play the next game," the coach said.

Women beat Poland 3-1
Meanwhile, riding on Rani Rampal's brace, India boosted their chances of reaching the quarter-finals from pool B in the women's Hockey World League Semi-Final as they edged past Poland 3-1 at the Brasschaat Municipal Park yesterday. Rani (20th, 29th minute), Vandana Katariya (53rd) scored for world No 13 India, who earlier lost to Belgium and New Zealand.