Friday, June 13, 2014
Battle for Pride: India face Korea for positions 9-10 on Saturday
With the prospects of a top-eight finish out of their grasp now, and pride battered the Indian senior men’s hockey team will now strive to seek some solace in the 9-10 position classification match against Asian champions Korea in The Hague on Saturday.
The eighth-ranked Sardar Singh-led side will be thirsting for revenge against Korea after having lost narrowly to them 3-4 in the final of the 9th Asia Cup last year. India needed a win or at least a draw against mighty Australia in their final league game and also required some favour from Malaysia to either draw or beat Spain in the last round of league games to be in contention for 5-8 positions. With both not happening, India will now have to settle for the 9th spot or 10th spot in the big-ticket event.
India’s final placing may not vindicate the efforts put in the World Cup. Two late goals hurt India big-time against Belgium and England from where they could have reeled off a point each. A sloppy draw against 10th ranked Spain only compounded its woes. Of course, beating or drawing Australia was quite a mountain to climb, but draws against Belgium and England would have surely allowed India to finish in the top-8.
The India-Korea classification match is an early morning match – the game starts at 8:00 am local time (IST 11:30 am). On current form, India should back themselves to beat Korea, who haven’t really played like the world number seven side – they have lost 0-5 to 11th ranked Argentina and were locked in a draw with 12th ranked South Africa in the league phase.
India have met Korea four times in the World Cup. India first faced Korea at the 1994 Sydney World Cup, where they won 2-0. The Blueshirts next met Korea at the 1998 Utrecht World Cup, where they lost narrowly 3-4. Korea subsequently gained the upperhand over India in World Cups, winning both the last matches – they won by an identical 2-1 margins in the 2002 Kuala Lumpur and 2006 Monchengladbach World Cup.
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