Determined to keep a clean slate against Canada, coach Harendra Singh said Friday India will look to write their own script and progress in the men’s hockey World Cup without depending on other results.
With one win and a draw, India are currently placed on top of Pool C ahead of Belgium on account of better goal (+4) average than the Olympic silver medallist.
While India will play Canada in their last pool engagement Saturday, Belgium will be up against South Africa. The top team from each of the four pools will qualify directly for the quarterfinals while the second and third-placed sides will play the cross-overs for a spot in the last eight.
“We interpret a picture as we see it. Our target is to top the pool irrespective of the result of Belgium versus South Africa game. Our fate is in our own hands,” Harendra said on the eve of the game.
“We are still on the second floor, they (Canada) are in the basement (in terms of position in the pool and goal difference). Let them come up to our level, then we will see. Our goal average is a lot better.
“We expect two things. One, I need to finish on top. The other, I want a clean sheet and no goals scored against India,” he added.
Harendra said India have devised a different style of play for Canada and they will try to adopt that in Saturday’s game.
“As a coach, I analyse. Most the players that have come here, Chris (Ciriello) has faced most of them. So, the inputs he gives are important having already been there,” he said about India’s analytical coach from Australia.
“We will play some different kind of hockey tomorrow and try variations depending on the game and situation.”
India are currently ranked fifth in the world while Canada are 11th.
But the India coach reiterated that rankings hardly have any significance in modern day hockey. “I have said it from the start and everybody should now agree with me. I saw about China, Japan and France (as teams of the future). For me, in modern sports, especially in a team sport, ranking and numbers are to write on paper,” Harendra said.
“Every team that comes to a major tournament wants to play the last match on last day. Small teams want to prove that they deserve to be here.”
India’s analytical coach Ciriello emphasised on the importance of converting penalty corners as well as defending them.
“We have got such a balance of good direct flickers and many variations. There are three good flickers (Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas and Varun Kumar). Focus is also on push and trap, good quality and good speed. There is difficulty all levels,” the Australian said.
“Our focus is on good execution and shots on goal. If you can’t get a push or trap right, it doesn’t matter how good your flicker is.
“We are expected to defend as well as score from penalty corners. The guys are putting their hands up and willing to get hit while defending,” Ciriello said.
Having won the World Cup with Australia in the last edition at The Hague, Netherland, Ciriello said: “It eventually comes down to finer details as both the teams had their chances. Spain were a good team and now they are going home.”
India captain Manpreet Singh said they need to utilise their chances to taste success.
Canada coach Paul Bundy said work ethics will be key to his team’s chances.
“The last couple of results (against India) have been in favour of both teams. Lost won, drew one and won one. I think our work ethics is key. If we stick to our game plan I think we are hard to break.
“We are very opportunistic as well. We have a good penalty corner unit. We have strikers who are very dangerous as well. I think that creates a little doubt in the higher ranked teams.”