Junior Hockey World Cup: India eyes win over Poland to qualify for knockouts

Defending champion India will take inspiration from its big win over Canada and look forward to registering another comprehensive win over Poland in its last Pool B match.

Action during a Junior Hockey World Cup fixture between India and Canada in Bhubaneswar on Thursday.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

Defending champion India will take inspiration from its big win over Canada and look forward to registering another comprehensive win over Poland in its last Pool B match of the men’s hockey Junior World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here on Saturday.

After being stunned 5-4 by France in its opening match, India fought back to thrash Canada 13-1 in its next engagement. Now the host, placed second in the pool with three points, needs to beat Poland in order to reach the quarterfinals smoothly. Top two sides from each pool will make it to the knockout stage.

Poland, which has three points as well, will hope to upset India’s plans even though it will be a tough task for the European team.

READ: Thrilling wins for Netherlands, Germany

Chief coach Graham Reid understood India’s helplessness well. “We can't do anything about that now (defeat to France). If we have to win back-to-back titles, we will have to beat every team henceforth.

“We will not like to think ahead of us, we have a match against Poland before that and that's what we will be thinking about. We have to win that before we think about the next stage,” said Reid.

Reid looked at the positives. “It is a learning experience for the boys. Every match is one experience. That's what I have always been telling the senior players as well.”

Among the positives, the home team will take heart from its fighting spirit that helped it reduce the margin against France in the closing minutes.

Besides, India’s penalty corner conversion has been impressive. Vice-captain Sanjay, who has scored two hat-tricks, Araijeet Singh Hundal, who has also scored a hat-trick against Canada, and Shardanand Tiwari provide a lot of options to the side in penalty corner attack.

The home team will also take confidence from its improved coordination and rhythm against Canada and will try to improve it further in the forthcoming matches.

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