LONDON: On the eve of their quarter-finals match against lower-ranked Malaysia in the ongoing Hockey World League Semi Final tournament here, India's chief coach Roelant Oltmans on Wednesday warned his side against any complacency when they take the field.
"Malaysia is a good side and no opponent can be taken lightly. We need to play with caution and give no room for mistakes because even a little bit of complacency in the knockout stage will put us out of the tournament," Oltmans emphasised ahead of Thursday's encounter.
After winning their opening three matches of the competition against Scotland, Canada and Pakistan handsomely, India went down 1-3 to the Netherlands in their final Pool B game on Tuesday.
Malaysia, on the other hand, scored an astounding 5-1 win against China in their last Pool A match on Tuesday. In their previous matches, the Malaysians tasted success against Korea but lost their matches against Argentina and England.
Going into Thursday's clash, higher-ranked India have the upper hand but Malaysia can be a 'tricky opponent'. Not so long ago, at the 26th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup earlier this year, Malaysia denied India entry to the summit clash with a 1-0 win.
India had to settle for the bronze with England making the final by the virtue of goal difference. The Malaysian outfit will draw confidence from that brave encounter ahead of their face-off with India.
Despite the loss to the Dutch side, Oltmans hailed his wards for fighting back in the later stages of the game -- more importantly by not conceding any goal in the third and fourth quarters.
"I think we did well after a poor start. I am also pleased with the way our defence stood up to the challenge -- especially the goalkeepers, who were probably facing the Dutch side for the first time since they came in to the senior squad," he said.
Other than beating China on Tuesday, Malaysia have tasted success against Korea 1-0 and have lost matches against Argentina (2-5) and England (3-7). But against India, they have often given a good contest.
It is encouraging for India that their forwards have stitched together great work in converting goals with Akashdeep Singh showcasing sublime form. He is presently the third highest goal scorer in the tournament behind Argentina's Gonzalo Peillat (11) and England's Sam Ward (7). He has scored five goals for the team with Harmanpreet Singh scoring three goals and Ramandeep Singh and Talwinder Singh scoring two each.
Oltmans also praised the team for improving their efficiency in converting the 25 yards entry into successful circle entries, making them third with 15 goals -- behind only Argentina and England who have 20 and 19, respectively.
"This has been a good aspect for us with the team scoring some fantastic field goals and I am pleased with how the forwards have done so far. However, we must get better and better with each match and still there are some areas of concern such as starting well and starting consistently well," he said.
In the other quarter-finals, Argentina will play Pakistan, the Netherlands will take on China while hosts England will clash with Canada.