Asia Cup: Indian men’s hockey team face stern Pakistan test
Dhaka [Bangladesh], Oct 14: The Indian men's hockey team will aim to continue their winning momentum at the Asia Cup 2017 when they take on arch-rival Pakistan in a high-voltage third Pool A encounter in Dhaka here on Sunday. Even as the memories of India-Pakistan clash from the Hockey World League Semi Final in London earlier this year is fresh in the minds of hockey lovers' world over, the two teams are geared up for tomorrow's match that is believed to create anxious moments for the teams' supporters. "What happened in London is history for us now. We did well there but to repeat similar results we want to focus on our game," asserted India skipper Manpreet Singh on the eve of the match. In London, India had beaten Pakistan 7-1 in the pool stage and followed it up with a 6-1 win in the classification match. But for Manpreet, resting on past laurels is not the way forward. He says his team's focus will be to top the pool table and to do that they want to make sure they come up with an overall performance against Pakistan. The Indian are the favourites to win the title and currently are on top of the pool table with six points from two wins (against Japan 5-1 and Bangladesh 7-0) in Pool A. "For hockey lovers, India- Pakistan is always a great game to watch. For us, we want to play them as any other opponent. We want to focus on our strategies against them and ensure we get on to a good start and not concede early goals," 25-year-old midfielder stated. While Indian forward-line has showcased incredible form, the team continues to work hard on the penalty corner conversion on the other hand Pakistan will look to use this to their advantage. "I don't think our PC conversation is bad. Yes, we missed a few chances but you must also acknowledge that Bangladesh defence in PC was good," Manpreet pointed out. Meanwhile, Pakistan skipper Muhammad Irfan insisted that the current team is different from the one in London and is hopeful of a good show on Sunday. "What happened in London was different. I am aware we lost two back-to-back matches against India but the present Pakistan team is different with few of the senior players making a comeback. Our management has changed and I am confident we will put up a good show where hockey lovers from across the world will enjoy the match," expressed the 27-year-old Irfan. Though Pakistan got off to a roaring start in this tournament with a 7-0 win against hosts Bangladesh, they stumbled against Japan as they settled for a 2-2 draw. On Sunday, Pakistan needs to ensure a win against India to make the Super 4s stage. "It is a must-win game for us otherwise we know it will come down to the match between Japan and Bangladesh and if Japan beats hosts by a big margin then we are in trouble," emphasized Irfan. He rued the chances his forwards missed against Japan but is hopeful they won't make the same mistakes against India. "We watched the video of the match against Japan. There were easy chances that we missed but we don't want to repeat the same mistake against India. They are a strong team with good strategies but we want to focus on our individual skill," he added.
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