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India in do-or-die situation against Chile

March 7, 2008

It will be a do-or-die situation under immense pressure as India will take on hosts Chile in their last league match on Saturday with an eye on the final berth at the World Hockey Olympic Qualifier on Friday.

India might be just two matches away from qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics but it is easier said than done as they first need to defeat Chile and then come up against Great Britain, who beat them by 3-2 margin on Thursday.

India have never missed an Olympics since their debut in 1928 and the consequences of failure to do so are too damning to even visualise.

Also read: India go down to Great Britain

A defeat on Saturday will most certainly knock them out of the contention.

Thus, at the moment, the onus is on India to perform and win both their remaining matches. There are no escape routes and it is crunch time for Indian hockey.

The Indian team would have welcomed a day's break on Friday to reflect upon not only their loss to Great Britain on Thursday but also the immediate future.

The situation is such that the Indians are virtually assured of a place in the final where they will renew their tussle with Great Britain. India are on nine points, the same as Austria but with a healthy and almost unassailable goal-difference.

Austria need to beat Great Britain on Saturday and then hope for Chile to do the same against India. Should Austria lose to Great Britain, as is expected, then, it would pitchfork India into the final while rendering their match against Chile inconsequential.

Also read: Carvalho blames lack of discipline for defeat

The coach was at a loss to explain the up-and-down performance of the team that appeared toothless against Britain after a string of high-scoring victories, but said the players have to be at their best against Chile who will doubtless enjoy home support.

The dramatic drop in form of the Indian team against Britain showed the forwards in poor light as there was little or no co-ordination and only a few sporadic moves underlined the talent and potential that never really surfaced.

The midfield play was rather ragged and the deep defence had to soak up considerable pressure that eventually told on them. Slow movements and poor marking allowed the British forwards precious space to make their moves and the slick ball rotation further stretched the Indians.

Also see: Images from the men's Olympic hockey qualifier

Should India come up against Britain in the final, then neither team will have a second chance to make up lost ground.

Saturday's fixtures (IST):
Great Brtain vs Austria (11.30 pm)
Russia vs Mexico (1.30 am, Sunday)
India vs Chile (3.30 am, Sunday)

Video: ANI | Text: PTI

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