Hockey World League: India seek better show against Poland
Antwerp: Having eked out an unconvincing 3-2 win over France in their campaign opener, the Indian men's side will have to quickly pull up their socks, especially at the defence, when they take on lower-ranked Poland in their second group match of the Hockey World League Semi-finals on Monday.
India needed a last-gasp goal to emerge victorious in their first match on Saturday as their defence struggled and the Frenchmen exploited the gaps to launch several attacks.
The Sardar Singh-led side will have to produce an improved show on Tuesday if they want to maintain a winning momentum.
Poland are ranked 17 in the world, eight spots behind India, but they have the potential to pull off a surprise win and India can take them lightly to their peril.
Like France, the Polish also have some speedy strikers who can mount brisk counters, as they displayed against Pakistan, and the Indian defence will have to make amends of their erratic show in the opening match.
Captain Sardar Singh was fully aware that his side cannot lower their guard against Poland on Tuesday.
"You cannot take any rival likely. The world rankings do not matter when you step into the field," said Sardar, hoping the young members of his team would have gained by the experience against France as newcomer Devinder Walmiki scored an opportunistic goal.
India were though handicapped to some an extent by the absence of their two drag-flickers VR Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh.
Raghunath was one of the three players dropped from the squad due to injuries suffered in the training camp ahead of this tournament.
Rupinder, who was to be rested from this event, came in as a replacement for Raghunath, but did not play the opening match due to an injury sustained in the warm-up matches leading upto the tournament.