Bhubaneswar: Bruised and battered by the back-to-back defeats in the Champions Trophy hockey, India's experienced drag-flicker V R Raghunath said the hosts are keen to put up their "best show" in their last Pool B tie against World Cup silver medallist the Netherlands on Monday.
After the narrow 0-1 loss against Olympic champions Germany in their tournament opener, India slumped to a 2-4 defeat against Argentina at the Kalinga Stadium yesterday.
India squandered their hard-earned lead on two occasions within seconds against Argentina, to slid to the bottom of their pool.
"The mistakes which we did yesterday we tried to rectify it today. And we have planned to put up a very good show, our best show which we can put up tomorrow. We are also prepared mentally for the main target i.E. Quarterfinal. So we are prepared for that whoever we will be facing," Raghunath told reporters on the eve of the game.
"We are really disappointed about yesterday's performance. We had a very friendly meeting today and we will make sure that we don't repeat the mistakes which we did yesterday."
While India's forwardline created chances against Argentina yesterday, the defence was nowhere to be seen and was caught napping by the Argentine's fast counter-attacks.
"We conceded goals in 30 seconds twice. We should have hold on to the lead but we have worked on that area today. We had a combined meeting. This happened after a long time. Our defence has played wonderful in the last one-and-a-half year. Good it happened in the pool stages because we can rectify the mistakes on that area and be prepared for the quarterfinal," Raghunath, who himself is one of the experienced defenders of the team, said.
"We will try to put up a good show in the defence. The main thing is that there should be no lapse in the defence."
India captain Sardar Singh yesterday gave a lame excuse when he said that the boys got little carried away by the crowd support and went for goals, leaving spaces in the backline. But Raghunath completely disagreed with his skipper.
"No, absolutely not. I think the boys should be excited and thrilled. That really doesn't matter. It doesn't affect much. At the end of the day we have to stick to our plans and try to give our personal best," he said.
Raghunath said besides the match against the Netherlands tomorrow, India are also preparing for their quarterfinal duel. "I am sure the knockout match would be totally different from the pool matches. We are ready to face any team. We have the potential to put up a good show. We are practicing penalty shoot-out in all the session and with the quarterfinal approaching, it's better to polish that area also," he said.
Raghunath seemed to be in no mood to ponder over the past and instead said the team should look at the future. "To be practical we should forget what happened in the last two matches and think about the Holland match and the quarterfinal. We should just take the positives from the last two matches and prepare ourselves for the future games," he insisted.
Young Indian striker Akashdeep Singh said poor finishing has let them down in the tournament so far and they are working on rectifying that.
"Everyone is trying to do well, but yesterday we missed a few goals. We are working on our finishing," he said.
Local boy and ever-dependable defender Birendra Lakra is nursing a back injury and Akashdeep informed that he most likely will sit out of tomorrow's match to give himself time to be fit for the all-important quarterfinal.