All or nothing for hosts: India need to win their Pool C match against Korea

Junior Hockey World CupThe last time India's colts faced Korea was at the Sultan of Johor Cup in September. India trounced them 6-1 (IE Photo Praveen Khanna)

In their first two games of the Junior World Cup, against the Netherlands and Canada, India have been quick to concede, going behind in the third minute on both occasions. In hockey or football, it's surely better to concede early than to let one in late. For in the former case, a team will have plenty of time to try and mount a comeback. So far, India have found it tough to recover they lost to the Dutch 3-2 and barely defeated Canada, again the scoreline being 3-2.

So here the home team are, needing nothing less that a win against their Pool C rivals Korea to advance. Korea too are in contention for a spot in the quarterfinals in fact, they are relatively better placed as a draw will be enough to send them through on goal difference (+2 as against India's 0).

Let's put it this way, Manpreet Singh (whose nickname is, ironically, Korean) and his teammates are, therefore, in a familiar position: They are practically a goal down against Korea (as they need to score at least one more than them). Only this time it's not even three minutes on the clock.

Thus, the onus to get a result on Tuesday will be more on the Indians. Which means more anxiety and added pressure. Against the Netherlands and Canada, after conceding that early goal, India perhaps too eager to get back on equal terms played at a pace that was faster than usual. And while they did create more chances, that anxiety meant their finishing wasn't really up there. Also, in the process, they left holes in the defence, and the opposition often looked like scoring when it counter-attacked.

However, coach Gregg Clark, while admitting that there was a bit of anxiety in the team, played down Korea's advantage. "I have full confidence that the boys will be able to put it right," the South African said. "It's a concern that we have conceded early in both matches. We have got to be more accurate in those first couple of minutes, certainly.

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