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India eyeing at least one point against China

Source: PTI
November 02, 2009 16:59 IST
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High on confidence after their good start to the tournament, India are expecting to log at least a point to inch towards the semifinals when they take on formidable China in their Women's Asia Cup hockey match in Bangkok on Tuesday.

A win against the Chinese would ensure India through to Friday's semifinals.

But even if they lose, the Indian eves will still be in contention for the last four stage. For that to happen, India will have to beat Malaysia in their last Group A match to qualify as group runners-up.

Going by their credentials, China are clear favourites for Tuesday's clash at the Queen Sikirt Sports Centre as they had won a silver at the last Olympics, a gold in the last Asian Games and a third rank in the FIH ladder, a clear 11 rungs over India.

Indian coach MK Kaushik was, however, undeterred by such statistics and is looking for a win, which would help them avenge their 2-4 loss in the bronze medal play-off in the last edition of the tournament.
"A victory at this stage will boost our morale," Kaushik said.

Kaushik is understandably upbeat after his wards' performance in the tournament so far – a 13-0 win against Singapore and 15-0 routing of Thailand. India's build-up to the event was also perfect as they defeated defending champions Japan 1-0 in a practice game.

The Indians though will have to improve their performance by several notches and play much better than their earlier two matches when they play China on Tuesday.

India will have to particularly give special attention to their goalkeeping which has been their weak area in the tournament.

"We have to improve in this area. We have however taken a cautious decision to field a different goalkeeper for each half in order groom both of them," said Kaushik.

China were, however, a bit rusty in their 4-0 win over Malaysia in their last group match after drubbing Singapore 13-0, and India would be keen to deny early momentum to their opponents.

China coach Kim-sam Ryul attributes the team's rustiness to the lack of preparations due to the recently-concluded National Games back home.

"Our National Games in which 12 provinces took part was over only on October 15. Then the players went for a break. We had only two days training before we left for Bangkok," he said.

China's strength, besides loads of experience, is the hard-working trio of striker Fu Bo Rong (182 caps), captain and defender Ma Yibo (144 caps) and the midfield maestro Li Hua Gao (144 caps).

They man each layer with immaculate precision. Goalie Zhang Yi Meng is no match to legendary Nie Ya Li whom she succeeded, but coach Ryul considers her the best in China although her prowess is hardly tested in the tournament so far.

Another worry for Kaushik could well be marking China's strike force, with 10 players carving their names on the scoreboard.

Indian defenders Subhadra Pradhan and Binita Toppo will have to raise their performance to keep a check on the Chinese attacking line spearheaded by four-times FIH Player of the Year nominee, Fu Bo Rong.

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