Indian hockey juniors aim to maintain momentum against Australia (Preview)

Johor Bahru (Malaysia), Oct 16 (IANS) Having already booked their spot in the final, two-time defending champions India will hope to continue their momentum when they take on Australia in their final league encounter of the Sultan of Johor Cup junior hockey tournament here on Saturday.

India have collected nine points to sit atop the points table, followed by Britain (eight points) and Argentina (seven points).

India started their campaign by notching up a 5-1 win over eternal rivals Pakistan. This was followed by a 3-4 loss against an unbeaten team of Britain.

The Indians later registered wins over Argentina (3-2) and Malaysia (2-1) to enter the final for the third consecutive time.

And the match against the fourth placed Australians is just the right preparation that the Harendra Singh-coached side needs before playing the tournament decider on Sunday.

Australia’s campaign in this tournament has been rather unimpressive, managing just one win in the tournament so far. However, they will be playing a must-win match against India to keep their hopes alive for a bronze medal in the six-nation tournament.

But Harendra has told his wards not to drop the intensity level.

“We are in a good position, and we are not taking it lightly. The boys are hungry to defend the championship title and they are not ready to let any moment go out of their hand,” Harendra said in a release.

“Our goals for and against are proof of our hunger to defend the title. Australia is a tough team and we are preparing hard to finish off our league matches on a winning note.”

The Indian team has scored 13 goals in the tournament — the highest by any team so far and it will be riding high on confidence with top scorers Sumit Kumar (three goals) Armaan Qureshi (two) and Harmanpreet Singh (two).

With a strong midfield being led by captain Harjeet Singh and defence by vice-captain Dipsan Tirkey, India will look to play the final with three consecutive wins.

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