Aiming to make the quarterfinals with an all-win record, favourites India would look to iron out the chinks in their armoury when they take on South Africa in their last Pool D match of the men’s Junior Hockey World Cup on Monday.
With two handsome wins over Canada (4-0) and England (5-3), the Indians colts have virtually secured their place in the quarterfinals and would need only a draw to guarantee their spot.
Going by present form and their stature in world hockey, the Indians are favourites to win the fixture against South Africa, which will help the team enter the business end of the tournament with its confidence intact.
India are presently leading Pool D with maximum six points from two games but both England and South Africa are still in the hunt with three apiece. Even if India lose they are front-runners to qualify for
the quarters as they enjoy a goal difference of six compared to their opponents and only a defeat by a huge margin can dash their hopes.
That scenario looks highly unlikely and going by the situation, India and England are expected to qualify for the last-eight round from the pool. England will fancy their chances against minnows Canada in their last pool match on Tuesday.
As indicated by the team’s head coach Harendra Singh, India would be looking to utilise the match against South Africa to iron out their flaws. Harendra’s statement came after India conceded two goals
in the last 10 minutes of the match against England, courtesy unnecessary fouls that resulted in two yellow and two green cards.
“We have to accept that they are youngsters who wait four years for a big tournament so excitement will always be there. But the fouls were unnecessary. We need to control our emotions. Better that it has happened here but we can’t afford such mistakes in the knockout stage,” Harendra had said.
The Indian colts made significant improvements in their game with each passing day, and that was visible in their game against England. “We scored field goals, tried variations in penalty corners, counter attacked. Day by day improvement is evidently visible,” Harendra said.