India Pak hockey

India will face its arch rival Pakistan Oct. 21 in the final of the 2017 Hero Asia Cup hockey tournament. (Asia Hockey Federation photo)

DHAKA (IANS) — India will aim to continue their good show as they face arch foes Pakistan in their last second-round clash with at least a point needed to guarantee their position in the final of the Hero Asia Cup hockey tournament here on Oct. 21.

India have sailed through the tournament showcasing impressive form. They notched up three successive wins in the pool stage but the forward line was put to test against a highly defensive South Korean side in their first Super-four match. India mustered a goal in the 59th minute to settle for a draw but bounced back with an astounding 6-2 win against Malaysia, who have in the past year beaten India twice.

India showed sublime skills in their clinical demolition of the Malaysian side and will look to carry on the winning form.

Indian coach Sjoerd Marijne stated that his team will be focused on improving their performance from their previous outing where they beat Pakistan 3-1 in the pool stage.

"We were happy with the win against Pakistan in our previous match but we know we can perform better. On Saturday, we will go into the match focusing on our structure and stick to the game plan we have against Pakistan," expressed the 43-year-old Dutchman.

The top two teams at the end of second round will reach the final while the teams finishing third and fourth will vie for the bronze medal.

Though India are on top of the table with four points from one draw and one win, Malaysia are close second with three points from their win against Pakistan. South Korea have two points from two draws and Pakistan are at fourth and last position with one point. Yet, no teams have secured a place in the final.

"Because the stage is open for anybody to make the final, it is exciting to the last moment. As a coach I want my players to perform under pressure and this is the best way to create that scenario. For us, at this moment, it is a lot important to play top international matches because we can raise our level," he added.

The coach emphasized that the team will make the most of the exposure they gain from this tournament going into an all-important Hockey World League (HWL) Final Bhubaneswar in December.

"In Super 4s (second round) we get to play more matches and the team is tested at a top level. We must be our best in every game. I think this format is especially good for us now as we go into the HWL Final," Marijne said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Coach Farhat Khan said that his team, especially their forward line, needs to go all-out against India if they want to be in the final.

"We not just need to win against India but we need to win with a big margin," the coach said.

"But it is going to be easier said than done because I am not happy with how our forwards have performed in this tournament. We have missed many opportunities in the circle and against India we cannot misfire," he added.

 

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