Their campaign off to a smooth start hosts India would look to seal a direct quarterfinal berth with a win against Canada in their final Pool ‘C’ match of the men’s hockey world cup here on Saturday.
World number 5 Indian is currently leading Pool ‘C’ with four points from two games ahead of Olympic silver medallist Belgium (4 points) on account of a better goal difference. The hosts would not want to leave anything on chance and they would seek a comprehensive win on Saturday to cement their place atop the pool and directly qualify for the last eight round.
The second and third-placed teams from the pool will play cross-over matches against number 2 and 3 teams of other pools to decide the remaining last four quarterfinal places.
Going by records and form, India is hands down favorites to come out victorious against Canada.
But as witnessed on Thursday with world number 20 France upsetting Olympic champions Argentina in pool ‘A’, anything can happen.
Besides the better rankings, India enjoys a superior head-to-head record against Canada. Since 2013, India and Canada have played five matches against India with the hosts having won three, lost one and drawn one.
So come Saturday, the Indians will have to come out with a clear frame of mind and with just one goal- 1 comprehensive win against Canada and top the pool.
But it would be easier said than done as the Canadians have improved tremendously over the years, especially their defense, which was visible in their first game against Belgium who found it difficult to break their backline and just managed to eke out a narrow 2-1 win.
The onus would be on India’s lethal forward line to strike it big.
From Online Sources