Hockey World Cup: Indian eves face formidable US in must-win tie (Preview)

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London, July 28 (IANS) After a below-par start to their women’s hockey World Cup campaign, India face a do-or-die situation against a higher-ranked United States in their final Pool B match at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre here on Sunday.

With one draw (1-1 against England), one loss (0-1) against Ireland, India are placed third in the Pool B points table. The Americans too have drawn once against England and lost 1-3 to Ireland.

Both India and US have one point each with India being ahead due to goal difference.

But on both occasions, World No.10 India failed to convert their numerous goal-scoring opportunities, which they cannot afford against No.7-ranked US.

While hailing the team’s structure and planning, India’s chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said in a statement: “The team’s structure and planning is good which enabled us to create chances in the striking circle but not being able to convert these chances into goals cost us the match.”

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He further added that though the team is disappointed that they could not come up with a winning performance against Ireland, they take heart from the fact that they created more opportunities.

“We made 27 circle entries against Ireland while had made just 10 against England. Though playing against these two teams is very different from each other, it is frustrating that we could not convert a single goal from these chances (15 shots on goal) against Ireland.

“But at the same time I take this as a positive that we have the abilities to puncture any team’s defence to create potential opportunities. When we play US, the emphasis would certainly be on scoring from these opportunities created. We have to execute better and the girls are working for that,” Marijne added.

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While the forward-line needs to ensure they score from the opportunities, the team’s defence has held strong.

While Ireland made just 10 circle entries, England made 34.

“Our defence will be one of our advantages against US. The loss against Ireland has not affected the confidence of the team because we know that if we have created enough chances against Ireland while our defence has held strong, we can do the same against US too,” the coach said.

To remain in contention for a quarterfinal berth, India need a win or a draw from Sunday’s game.

“It is a must-win match for us on Sunday and there is no doubt that,” Marijne said.

–IANS

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