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India hold slight edge over Pakistan

Hyderabad: India will hope to repeat their Asia Cup final act in the Afro-Asian Games on Monday. They clash with a revenge-seeking Pakistani side in their last league match that promises to take the cherry in the men’s hockey event.

Although the two Asian giants have already qualified for the semi-finals with 100 per cent win record, the match would help determine the pool positions and the opponents for the next stage. Both the sides have yet to play to their potential in the tournament, but are expected to match each other in skilful play and style.

Considering the recent performance at the international level, India hold a slight edge over Pakistan, a fact conceded by Pakistan’s foreign coach Roelant Oltmans.

“Last couple of years India are playing well. At the moment India are a little further up than Pakistan. But you never know and you cannot say who will win the match between the two sides, which is always exciting,” Oltmans said.

Both the countries have decided to field virtually a second-string team in the competition with Pakistan resting Sohail Abbas, Kashif Jawaid and goalkeeper Ahmed Alam, while Dhanraj Pillay, Baljit Singh Dhillon and Baljit Singh Saini are missing from the Indian side.

Despite their indifferent form, the mood in the Pakistani camp is upbeat for Monday’s match, which promises to be a nerve-wrecking one.

Pakistan were given a scare by Nigeria in their opener on Thursday and the team looked out of sorts in the first half against Egypt on Saturday.

Though Nigeria put up a tough challenge for India on Saturday, chief coach Rajinder Singh was quite confident of his boys’ abilities.

“We will continue to play the way we always do against Pakistan — go all out and beat them,” he said. Singh, however, was little wary of the team’s performance in the first two matches — against Egypt and Nigeria — where the side conceded a few goals.

“We are not poor in defending. Nigeria played a tough game yesterday and so we tried to play safe, as we did not want to risk injuries to our players before the crucial matches. “Deepak (Thakur) got injured which slowed us a bit against Nigeria,” the coach said.

Indian eves in semis

Indian eves set up a semi-final clash with South Korean after hammering a hapless Kazakhstan 9-0 in the last league match of the women's hockey Sunday.

Adline Kerketta (11th, 52nd and 61st) and Jyoti Sunita Kullu (32nd, 44th and 67th) scored thrice while Sanggai Chanu also joined the feast by scoring a brace (4th, 40th).Surinder Kaur (62nd) scored the other one.

(PTI)

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