Crucial game for India, Britain at hockey qualifier

March 6th, 2008 - 5:13 pm ICT by admin  

Santiago (Chile), March 6 (IANS) India and Great Britain will clash in a league match that may well be the preview to the final in the World Hockey Olympic qualifying tournament at the Prince of Wales Country Club here on Thursday. Both India and Great Britain have won each of their three matches by huge margins in the six-team competition, from where only one team earns a berth into the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

But both have had their moments of anxiety. India were made to struggle by Austria with a 2-2 scoreline at half time, before pulling ahead to win 7-3.

Chile made Great Britain sweat with a goalless first half before going down 1-4.

India has shown some weaknesses in the early stages of the match and Great Britain will try and exploit that, whereas the Indian forwards have been in great scoring mood with 33 goals in three games.

The winner will almost certainly move into the final, which will be contested by the top two teams to decide the lone Olympic berth on offer. The top two teams regardless of their goal averages will play the final.

Both coaches, Joaquim Carvalho of India and Jason Lee of Britain, realise that this match is one with high stakes and will set the tone for the final later in the week.

India go into the match with a lot of optimism based on their two wins over England in last year’s Champions Challenge tournament in Antwerp.

For India, the defence has let in a few goals - three against Austria and one to Mexico - and they will need to guard against that. The forwards who have shown great finishing will need to maintain that momentum and the pressure will also be on V.R. Raghunath to come good with his drag flicks.

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