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Coach wary of Aussies
- CHAMPIONS TROPHY

Amstelveen: The quiet suburb with its tree-lined avenues and parks, where the team hotel is located, is providing just the balm the Indians needed after two tight matches in the 25th Champions Trophy.

The 3-4 loss to Holland on Saturday followed by an unconvincing 3-2 win against a young German team the following day, have taken a lot out of the players. The off-day on Monday came as a welcome break as the team relaxed in the hotel. Coach Rajinder Singh though sported a crease of worry on his forehead as he spoke about Tuesday’s match against Australia.

“They will go flat out against us. They have only one point from two matches. They will obviously be going all out for a win,” the Indian coach said on Monday. India, with three points from two matches, need to sustain the momentum if they hope to make it to the medal rounds.

“It is going to be a very tough match. The Aussies have not been playing as well as they were a couple of months back when we went there. But we cannot take them lightly as I feel they are fully capable of raising their game.

“Although their key forward Jamie Dwyer is down with a knee injury, they have a good side,” said Rajinder, who scored a hattrick against Pakistan in the 1982 Champions Trophy where India finished third.

On the two matches India have played so far, Rajinder said: “We played very well against Holland in our first match until the last seven minutes when we allowed them to score four goals.

“Against Germany, I thought our boys were overconfident. That was a big mistake, and only when Germany scored their second goal, did we wake up.”

In the game against Holland, India had skipper Dhanraj Pillay sent off, while key defender Dilip Tirkey left the pitch with an injury. “These two incidents unsettled us and though we were shouting instructions from the bench, there was so much noise and chaos that the players could not hear us.”

Reviewing the match against Germany, Rajinder said: “This German team is good and capable of scoring a few upset wins. I was impressed by their defence which did not concede a penalty corner until the 60th minute.”

The coach felt the Indian players were tired against Germany. “I agree that some of the players were still thinking about the Holland match. We had less than 24 hours between the matches. The Germans were fresh as it was their first outing.

“But we have sufficient time now to recover for the next match and I am sure our boys will be fit and ready for the game.”

The coach confirmed the team had been warned by the FIH president Els van Breda Vriesman and tournament direcor Ken Read for protesting the third goal against Holland. But he hastened to add that the team was determined not to repeat it. “You saw that against Germany we did not question a single decision. Our boys will remain focussed on the game,” he said.

Rajinder sounded worried about his midfield. “We lack experience there. Our midfielders are talented but they need to improve which I am sure they will with experience,” he said. “Otherwise, I am extremely happy with the performance of the team. Our defence is working well, and also our forward line. If Pillay and Baljit Singh Dhillon regain their form, I think our attack will be sharper. The seniors have not had the best of tournaments so far, but I am sure they will bounce back.”

A team source said the injury to Tirkey was minor and he will be fit for the match against Australia. “We have given him enough fluids and minerals which should take care of the cramps,” said the source. (PTI)

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