Its campaign has started off positively, but India must guard against complacency when it faces Spain in the second Pool C match of the FIH junior men’s hockey World Cup here on Thursday.
Vice-captain Araijeet Singh Hundal came out to be India’s saviour, scoring a hat-trick as India overcame some anxious moments to beat Korea 4-2 in the opener on Tuesday.
But India’s coach C R Kumar was not too satisfied with the performance and said his side needs to be more clinical and avoid conceding unnecessary penalty corners.
India conceded six penalty corners, while earned just two against Korea.
“We are very happy that we got the three points and that’s the positive side. But we have to more clinical in both circles. We conceded two goals in penalty corners which we need to pay attention to,” Kumar said after the Korea match.
“We gave away too many many penalty corners, six in the whole game where we had just two. We need to be more cautious.” India are striving to secure their fourth podium finish in the event after having won the tournament twice in 2001 (Hobart) and Lucknow (2016).
The country had clinched a silver medal way back in 1997 in Milton Keynes, England.
Skipper Uttam Singh and his deputy Hundal are the only two players of the big event having featured in the last edition of the tournament, where India finished fourth in Bhubaneswar, losing to France in the bronze medal play-off match.
The Spaniards, who have a bronze medal in their kitty at the 2005 edition in Rotterdam, are India’s toughest opponent in the pool, comprising Canada as the other side.
But going by form, India will start as favourites against Spain on Thursday.
India’s last pool match is against Canada on Saturday.
Pool A consists of defending champions Argentina, Australia, Chile, and Malaysia, while Pool B has Egypt, France, Germany and South Africa. Pool D is the toughest of the lot as Belgium, Netherlands, New Zealand and Pakistan will be vying for a quarterfinal berth.
The top two teams from each pool will qualify for the quarterfinals.
The Indians played an attacking game from the onset on Tuesday and would look to continue in the same vein but their defence will have to be cautious against counter-attacks which the Koreans used to great effect to earn penalty corners.
Spain too would be looking to exploit that weakness against the Indians.
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