Hockey World Cup: India Play Last Pool Game vs Canada at 7pm Today
- India play Canada in their final Pool C match of the Hockey World Cup on Saturday, 8 December.
- If India finish on top of their pool, they secure direct qualification for the quarter-finals.
- The India vs Canada game starts at 7pm IST. It will be broadcast on Star Sports and streamed live on Hotstar.
Hosts India would look to seal a direct quarter-final berth with a win against Canada in their final Pool C match of the men's hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar on Saturday, 8 December.
World number 5 India are currently leading Pool C with four points from two games ahead of Olympic silver medallist Belgium (4 points) on account of a better goal difference.
The Indians have a goal difference of + 5 as against Belgium's +1.
Both Canada and South Africa have one point each from two matches but the North Americans are placed third with a goal difference of -1 as against South Africa's -5.
India thrashed South Africa 5-0 and drew 2-2 against Belgium in their earlier matches, while Canada lost 1-2 against the Red Lions before eking out a hard-fought 1-1 draw against the Africans.
While India are placed at an advantageous position at present, the pool is still wide open. The hosts would not want to leave anything on chance and they would seek a comprehensive win to cement their place atop the pool and directly qualify for the last eight round.
If they finish second or third in their pool, India will have to play one more knockout match aka cross-over match against number 2 and 3 teams of other pools, for a place in the quarters.
Why India are Favourites
Going by records and form, India are hands down favourites to come out victorious against Canada.
But with world number 20 France upsetting Olympic champions Argentina in a Pool A encounter, one thing is for sure – anything can happen in modern world hockey.
Besides the better rankings, India enjoy a superior head-to-head record against Canada.
The Canadians however, have improved tremendously over the years, especially their defence, which was visible in their first game against Belgium who found it difficult to break their backline and just managed to eke out a narrow 2-1 win.
Canada Not Pushovers
The onus would be on India's fowardline comprising Mandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Lalit Upadhyay to take the responsibility of scoring on their shoulders.
The Indian midfield, led by skipper Manpreet Singh, has produced a decent show so far, while the defence needs to be more agile and cautious, especially considering the fact that the backline is infamous for crumbling under pressure towards the end.
Conceding late goals has been India's perennial problem and it once again came to hurt the hosts when their defence, consisting of Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, Harmanpreet Singh, broke down under pressure to concede a goal four minutes from the final hooter and gift Belgium a draw in their last match.
If that was not enough, in the 2016 Rio Olympics too, India were held to a 2-2 draw by the Canadians.
But India's chief coach Harendra Singh was not in a mood to dwell in the past and said those experiences will only act as catalyst to do better on Saturday.
While insisting that Canada will rely on counter-attacks, the coach said India can't divert from its strength – that is attacking hockey.
"They will not give space. They wait, wait and wait to get opportunities and that will be their plan. But we have to play to our strength," Harendra said.
"You can't go and defend. You can't be on the backfoot. We have to play attacking hockey. The players have adopted attacking hockey when they were teenagers. It's in our culture. You can make minor adjustments, but not change the mindset," he added.
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