Hockey World Cup 2018: India face Canada with an eye on quarter-finals

first_imgIndia have their eyes on a direct quarter-final berth as they take on Canada in their last Pool C match of the Hockey World Cup 2018 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.India are currently leading the pool with four points from two games. Belgium have the same points but are second due to inferior goal difference. While India have a goal difference of +5, Olympic silver-medallists Belgium have +1 goal difference.On the other hand, Canada and South Africa have a point each but the former are third in the pool with better goal difference.India are in an advantageous position at the moment but the pool is still wide open. Belgium will take on Canada in the first match of the day while India vs Canada will take place at 7.00 PM IST.Hockey World Cup 2018: FULL COVERAGE | FULL SQUADS | SCHEDULE | TABLEWhoever, tops the group will directly qualify for the quarters while the second and third will play cross-over matches against the second and third from the other pool to decide the rest of the quarter-finalists.Going by records and form, India are hands down favourites to come out victorious against Canada. But as witnessed on Thursday with world number 20 France upsetting Olympic champions Argentina in a Pool A encounter, anything can happen in modern world hockey.Besides the better rankings, India enjoy a superior head-to-head record against Canada. Since 2013, India and Canada have played five matches with the hosts having won three, lost one and drawn one.So come tomorrow, the Indians will have to come out with a clear frame of mind and with just one goal — a comprehensive win against Canada and top the pool.advertisementIndia vs Canada, Hockey World Cup Live Streaming: When, Where and How to Watch Online Coverage on Hotstar, Star SportsBut it would be easier said than done as the Canadians have improved tremendously over the years, especially their defence, which was visible in their first game against Belgium who found it difficult to break their backline and just managed to eke out a narrow 2-1 win.The onus would be on India’s lethal fowardline comprising Mandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay to take responsibility on their shoulders.The Indian midfield, led by skipper Manpreet Singh, has so far produced a decent show, while the defence needs to be more agile and cautious, especially considering the fact that the backline is infamous for crumbling under pressure towards the end.Conceding late goals has been India’s perennial problem and it once again came to hurt the hosts when their defence, consisting of Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh, broke down under pressure to concede a goal four minutes from the final hooter and gift Belgium a draw in their last match.PR Sreejesh has been quite solid so far and India will look for another good show from their custodian.Canada have given India problems in the past, the most recent being in last year’s Hockey World League Semi-Finals in London where they defeated India 3-2 to finish fifth.If that was not enough, in the 2016 Rio Olympics too, India were held to a 2-2 draw by the Canadians.But India’s chief coach Harendra Singh was not in a mood to dwell in the past and said those experiences will only act as catalyst to do better on Saturday.”Past failures are experiences. These experiences we will try to make use the present. The present is the match against Canada. The match will decide the fate of our pool. I am not thinking about what happened in Hockey World League Semi-Final or Rio Olympics,” Harendra said.While insisting that Canada will rely on counter-attacks, the coach said India can’t divert from its strength — that is attacking hockey.”They will not give space. They wait, wait and wait to get opportunities and that will be their plan. But we have to play to our strength,” Harendra said.”You can’t go and defend. You can’t be on the backfoot. We have to play attacking hockey. The players have adopted attacking hockey when they were teenagers. It’s in our culture. You can make minor adjustments, but not change the mindset,” he added.(With PTI inputs)Also Read | Hockey World Cup 2018: Our fate is in our own hands, says India coach Harendra SinghAlso Read | Hockey World Cup: Pakistan stars woo fans in Bhubaneswar, dance to Bollywood songslast_img