Of the five games that India have played in Dhaka at the Asia Cup, they’ve been convincing and almost brutal in four of those games. The only aberration was the 1-1 draw against South Korea which needed a late goal. On Saturday, India will eye a continuation of the strong run and a ‘double’ over Pakistan once again.
In the two Super 4 games so far, India have been held by South Korea (1-1) and come back to humble Malaysia 6-1 on Thursday. Even a draw against Pakistan and India would be through to the final of the tournament. It is no question that India will go in as the overwhelming favourites to not just reach the decider but also lift the trophy. But more importantly for India, a win over Pakistan would be the big morale and confidence booster they need for the crunch game.
In the group stages, India beat Pakistan 3-1 with strong display of hockey and shown exemplary stuff with their one-touch hockey resulting in 22 goals scored. Now India would be eager to repeat the ‘double’ of Hockey World League semifinals in London where they thumped Pakistan 7-1 and 6-1 respectively.
“We were happy with the win against Pakistan in our previous match but we know we can perform better. On Saturday, we will go into the match focusing on our structure and stick to the game plan we have against Pakistan,” said India coach Sjoerd Marijne.
“Because the stage is open for anybody to make the Final, it is exciting to the last moment. As a Coach I want my players to perform under pressure and this is the best way to create that scenario. For us, at this moment, it is a lot important to play top international matches because we can raise our level,” he added.
“In Super 4s we get to play more matches and the team is tested at a top level. We must be our best in every game. I think this format is especially good for us now as we go into the Odisha Men’s World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 in December,” Marijne expressed.
With things looking bleak for Pakistan, they would be eager to make most of one final shot at reaching the final. They currently sit bottom of the Super 4 standings with one point and India are top with four points. For Pakistan, it is an opportunity to take revenge and show that they are not pushovers even though they are not the heavyweights they once were.