India brace up for Canada with eye on Pakistan clash at Hockey World League Semi-Final

Although India skipper Manpreet Singh tried to downplay the hype surrounding the Pakistan encounter, he said they will be going out all guns blazing.

Published: 17th June 2017 02:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th June 2017 08:09 AM   |  A+A-

Indian team celebrates goal during the Men's World Hockey League Pool B match against Scotland at Lee Valley Hockey Center in London on Thursday. | PTI

By PTI

LONDON: They play Canada in their second pool match of the Hockey World League Semi-Final here tomorrow, but India have already set their sights on Sunday's much-anticipated clash against Pakistan.

Although India skipper Manpreet Singh tried to downplay the hype surrounding the Pakistan encounter, he said they will be going out all guns blazing to garner full points.

"We always look at Pakistan as just another team and we always look at earning those three points from the match to advance in the league stage," the midfielder said on the eve of the match against Canada.

"They (Pakistan) are a good side, but we have had a good start to the tournament. The idea will be to stick to the plans coach draws up before the match against both Canada and Pakistan. The plan will be to bring in more aggression into our game and aim at finishing on top of the table in the league stage," said an optimistic Manpreet.

Even though India pocketed a comfortable 4-1 win over lowly Scotland yesterday, they were far from impressive at the start.

India conceded an early goal before making a strong comeback after half time.

A 'pep-talk' by chief coach Roelant Oltmans during the 10-minute break at half time changed the course of the match and Ramandeep Singh (31st, 34th), Akashdeep Singh (40th) and Harmanpreet Singh (42nd) struck in quick time to turn the game around.

"We knew we didn't start well. But coach gave us that confidence during the break saying there's still 30 minutes to go and nothing is lost yet. He asked us to bring more energy and aggression into our game," Manpreet said.

"He reminded us about the strategic planning we had made ahead of the match against Scotland and asked us to execute it and not think of the misses we had in the first two quarters,"

the skipper said about the animated dressing room talk.

After the mini scare against Scotland, India cannot afford to take any side lightly even if Canada are ranked 11th in the world as against India's sixth position.

"Though the team is ranked below us, we don't want to take them lightly. They can come up with a good game and hence it is important for us to stick to the roles assigned by our coach and execute them as planned," Manpreet said.

He further emphasised that India have no added pressure as being the hosts they are already assured of a place in the Hockey World League Final to be held in Bhubaneswar later this year.

"We play with no pressure. We just want to perform to our potential and enjoy ourselves while giving our best," he said.

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