The Indian Hockey team has been facing a lot criticism off late but that can take a backseat if the Men In Blue enter the finals of the 17th Asian Games and the 16-year old gold drought when they face a tough South Korea…
The Indian Hockey team has been facing a lot criticism off late but that can take a backseat if the Men In Blue enter the finals of the 17th Asian Games and the 16-year old gold drought when they face a tough South Korea test in the semi-finals.
The Sardar Singh-led side lost to Pakistan 1-2 but came back strongly against China 2-0 in their fourth and last league match to qualify for the last-four and earn a gold medal.
India, who last won gold in the 1998 Bangkok Games, will be looking to add more glory to their shelf with a berth at the Rio 2016 Olympics. However, to achieve that, the Indian hockey side have to seal a lot of loopholes that are ailing them currently.
The defence is still lacking thrust and capability to thwart away the opposition attack and it was quite evident against the Pakistan game. The attack has still not got the ‘killer instinct’ to kill off and the midfield has yet to stamp an authority in the middle of the park.
With most of the players young and ripe, their maiden Asian Games sojourn is proving too much to handle. The strategy of depending on earning penalty corners to move ahead in matches, might cost the team dearly. India is relying on ace flicker, V R Raghunath to bail them out whereas the likes of Sunil Tirkey, Chinglensana Singh, Danish Mujtaba and Birendra Lakra have not fired in big games.
Rupinder Pal has been side’s top scorer with 6 goals while VR Raghunath has scored five, from penalty corners and penalty strokes. India cannot take the four-time gold medal winners Korea lightly as the Asian giants are lethal on the attack and penalty corners as well. Drag-flick expert Jang Jonhyun, who has already fired 5, is the leading goal scorer of the tournament so far. How the Indian defence tackles him, remains to be seen.
The Indian hockey team has been receiving flak from ex-players and pundits for the style of play and defending but the Aussie coach Terry Walsh will be looking to silence the mouths of many.
The Indian team’s think tank will be hoping that the defence stands up to the Korean threat and take them to its 12th Asiad final and more so, earn a gold medal!