Indian eves seek to continue winning ways

New Delhi: The Indian women`s hockey team will look to continue the winning momentum when it clashes with a low-ranked Poland in its third match of the London Olympics qualifiers at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium here tomorrow.

After being held to a 1-1 draw by Ukraine in the opening match, India brought their campaign back on track with a 4-1 mauling of Canada on Sunday and coach C R Kumar`s wards will look to continue the good work tomorrow.

Ranked 28th in the world, Poland are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament but Kumar doesn`t want to take them lightly. "These teams are good, ranking may be low but we can`t take them for granted. 28th rank doesn`t mean they are a bad team. We saw their videos against Italy and South Africa and they played well so far, so we can`t take them lightly," Kumar told PTI.

"We are one goal behind Italy in goal average, so it is important to score more goals but we don`t want to put pressure on players by setting a target, early goals is what we would look for but it is not easy," he added.

Indian eves played a very aggressive game on Sunday and created a lot of scoring opportunities but finishing is still a problem. "Their penalty corner conversion rate was better than before as they converted two out of six chances that came their way but it still has to improve if they have to threaten the top-ranked South Africans, who are sitting at the top of the table after wining both their matches convincingly so far."

"We changed our plan for short corner conversion. Since they tried to block the goal mouth, we changed the tactic of taking a direct shot from the penalty corner and that paid dividends. Our PC conversions have improved but perfection is very important in PC and we have to work really hard in this area," Kumar added.

"When teams defend more, they leave you very less space, so less scoring chances, effectively we will have to quickly finish it."

Skipper Asunta Lakra has played her part well so far, especially in yesterday`s match and deservingly was adjudged player of the match. The Jharkhand player was instrumental in helping Soundarya Yendala converting the second penalty corner on Sunday.

Soundarya has scored two goals so far, while Rani Rampal, Sushila Chanu and Anuradha Devi – all have etched their names in the goal list.

Anuradha, who was adjudged player of the match against Ukraine, has been a vital cog in the Indian forward-line but last night she suffered an injury. However, Kumar hoped she would be fit for tomorrow`s match.

"Anuradha has a hamstring muscle tear, the doctor will see how she does in the gym or may be tomorrow morning in the field for a few minutes. Our match is at six o`clock, so we will take a call later tomorrow, we hope she is fit," he said.

Poland started their campaign against the South Africans but they gave a good account of themselves even though they lost 1-2. But in their second match, they were handed a 1-4 drubbing against Italy and are currently lying at the bottom of the table.

Poland were agile in the field and their defence looked compact as they kept the South Africans away. Natalia Wisniewska too looked in good touch.

But in the second match, the polish team failed to break the grip of the Italians and ended up conceding four goals in the second half and if they have to tame India, they need to get rid of these mistakes.