Hockey: India face experienced Korea
Ordos: A relatively young Indian hockey team will have to play out of their skin and avoid silly errors against a formidable South Korea here if they desire to keep their unbeaten run intact at the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy.
Having started the tournament on a high with a 5-0 pounding of hosts China, India suffered a setback of sorts when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Japan, largely due to a lapse in concentration from the defensive line which led to a last-minute equaliser.
But against the nimble-footed Koreans the Indians cannot afford to relax at any moment as a defeat at this stage of the tournament can jeopardise their chances of a podium finish.
Unlike China and Japan, the Indians are also aware that the Koreans are a much superior opposition side in terms of fitness as well as experience.
India would be eyeing an outright win as a defeat or another draw can make life difficult for the Rajpal Singh-led side ahead of tough fixtures against Guangzhou Asian Games gold-medallist champions Pakistan and runners-up Malaysia.
Under new coach Micheal Nobbs, the Indians have exhibited a new style of hockey in this tournament -- a blend of India`s aggression and Australia`s sharpness -- which so far paid dividends for the erstwhile Asian giants.
But India has a chance against the experienced Koreans if they can hold their rivals in the midfield and cut the runs down the flanks.
The Indian defence of Rupinder Pal Singh and V Raghunath have played well so far in this tournament but need more experience to soak pressure.