Lucknow: Home favourites India will hope to continue their momentum when they face a less-fancied Spain in the semi-final of the Hockey Junior World Cup here on Thursday.
India topped their pool comprising England, South Africa and Canada to get an easier opposition in the form of Spain, who should start as the underdogs in the last eight battle at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.
Moreover, the Indians can take heart from the fact that they had conquered Spain two times in a four-nation tournament in Valencia prior to the World Cup.
However, the former champions need to avoid complacency which crept up during their two wins over England (5-3) and South Africa (2-1). In the game against England, Harendra Singh-coached India took a 5-1 lead and dropped their guard, only to see the Englishmen reduce the deficit to two in the final six minutes. Then in the final pool game against the South Africans, the Indians lacked the strong intent as they had already qualified to the knock-outs.
Coach Harendra should keep his talented band of boys grounded in order to progress in the knock-out stages. They also need to be more patient as Spain can be a difficult team to score against, thanks to their tight man-to-man marking and their defence-based game which can disrupt India`s free flowing hockey.
For India, drag-flicks exponents Harmanpreet Singh and Varun Kumar have scored twice each and they will be tasked to convert the crucial penalty corners. The duo has also performed well as defenders, along with vice-captain Dipsan Tirkey.
In the midfield, captain Harjeet Singh will dictate the tempo of the game and he will need the help from Nilakanta Sharma, Santa Singh, Manpreet and Sumit.
Armaan Qureshi, Mandeep Singh and Parvinder Singh will not only have the duty of finding goals but also penalty corners.
Meanwhile in the other quarter-finals, two-time defending champions Germany take on England; Pool A winners Australia face a huge clash with Pool B runners-up the Netherlands, while Belgium meet Argentina.