Olympic qualifier: India close to realising London dream

Zeenews Sports Bureau

New Delhi: When a spirited Indian team take the field in the final on Sunday, they would be looking nothing less than a win and seal a spot in the 2012 London Olympics.

It’s a perfect setting for a win for India and to avoid another disaster, considering the fact that France are a less ranked team than the hosts. The fact that they beat the Europeans in the pool would be an added advantage for the 10th ranked team. The most successful team in the history of Olympics, with eight gold medals, India failed to qualify for the first time in 80 years Beijing Olympics four years ago.

India started the FIH Olympic qualifiers as favourites and stayed unbeaten before reaching the final at the Dhyan Chand stadium in Delhi. They took off in style against a lowly Singapore to drub them 15-1. Against a sorry Italy the scoreline read 8-1 in favour of the Indians. India didn’t sweat much to down the other finalist France 6-2. As expected, India faced the first test in the tournament against Canada but came good in the end. Poland at once threatened India by making an early breakthrough but the hosts toiled hard to beat them and avoided facing them in the final.

When it looked like they have sorted out the defensive flaws, there appeared fresh trouble in finishing. The match against Canada was a testimony to this latest mess. But when all thought it was rectified it haunted them against Poland as well. The bright spot is ace drag flicker Sandeep Singh’s rollicking form. He is the highest goal-scorer with 11 goals from five outings.

After a hat-trick against France and two goals against Canada, Sandeep scored two more against Poland on Friday to take his tally in the event to 11. Apart from Sandeep, S V Sunil too has been impressive upfront even though he failed to score against Poland.

Yet coach Michael jobs is not ready to take any chance and he expects an even tighter match in the final not forgetting that they overcame the same France in the pool. "It is not going to be easy in the finals against them. Probably, it would be much tighter than what we played in the last time. It is a grand finale and I am sure it would be pretty tight," he said.

Match starts at 8 pm. Live on Ten Sports

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