India to take on Pakistan in high-voltage Asiad hockey clash

Friday, November 19, 2010

GUANGZHOU - India will take on Pakistan in a high-voltage hockey clash at the Asian Games here Saturday and will be hoping to continue their winning streak for the third time in a major tournament this year against their arch-rivals.

India have twice defeated Pakistan this year, at the World Cup in February-March and at the Commonwealth Games last month. But both victories came at home. India would be wary of Pakistan’s enviable record at the Asian Games and the upper hand they have enjoyed against them in the past.

And Pakistan, coached by Dutchman Michel van den Heuvel, would be gunning for revenge here.

In fact, all of Pakistan’s seven gold medals at the Asian Games came at the cost of India, who lost seven title contests against the neighbours, the last time being in 1990 at Beijing.

India are looking for their third medal at the Asian Games, having beaten Pakistan in 1966 and South Korea in 1998.

Indian players are likely miss the home support they had in the hockey World Cup and Commonwealth Games, where packed crowds of 19,000 at the Major Dhyan Chand National stadium egged them on to crushing wins. At the Comonwealth Games, India beat Pakistan 7-4 and went on to make the final.

India and Pakistan have won both their matches here and are at six points. India, however, are at second place in the five-member group with victories against Hong Kong (7-0) and Bangladesh (9-0).

Pakistan are at the top of the pool on the basis of a better goal difference. Pakistan beat Hong Kong 12-0 and Japan 8-2.

But India are yet to condede a goal in the tournament.

The gold medallist here will get a direct entry into the 2012 London Olympics.

For India, Sandeep Singh’s form would be crucial. The drag-flick expert converted four penalty corners against Bangaldesh and the team would be looking up to him again for a good show.

Pakistan’s recalled veteran penalty corner expert Sohail Abbas, too, converted two penalty corners against Hong Kong.

Filed under: Hockey, Olympic Games

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