By Pargat Singh
Two matches are enough for Jose Brasa to chalk out his plans for the crucial World Cup group B match against Spain on Thursday night. India will also have the advantage of playing last as Australia will take on a freewheeling South Africa in the first match of the day while unbeaten England take on Pakistan.
Group B is wide open but Australia, barring a miracle, should be one of the two teams going through to the semis. That leaves India, Spain, Pakistan and England fighting for the remaining spot. With two wins from as many games, the English obviously are at an advantage.
From here on, India must win all their matches. This knockout situation is bound to put pressure on the team and coach Jose Brasa must ensure that we take one match a time. Focus will be key and hence we must quickly learn the lessons from the Australian defeat.
The fact that we will be missing Shivendra Singh once again means the extra load has to be shared by the team. Modern hockey is a test of endurance and Brasa has to make sure the 70 minutes have been well utilised by his available 15-member squad.
Gurwinder Singh Chandy and Deepak Thakur must take extra workload and both are capable of doing this. Chandy has to guard against over-dribbling and releasing the ball will be crucial to India’s performance.
Spain, on form, have been quite unimpressive. They barely look the side they were even two years ago. The Spaniards are not as quick as the Australians or the Germans and that will help India to plan their game. A normal game should work but focus will be key.
While a semifinal berth should be the ultimate aim, India should be happy with a top 6 finish. Playing at home is a great advantage and if we can improve from our No. 12 status, Brasa would have done a commendable job.