New Delhi: It is going to be a battle of wits between two top Australian coaches when India meet Australia in the quarter-finals of the Hockey World League (HWL) Final at the Dhyan Chand Stadium on Wednesday.
Under Ric Charlesworth, the Australians have always managed to thrash India in the recent past. The Aussies are World Cup champions and no doubt a formidable side. In the 2010 Commonwealth Games final at the same venue, Australia had the home side on their knees, winning 8-0.
Terry Walsh, on the other hand, is new to the job. He is in charge of India for the first time in an international-level tournament.
India had a poor start, losing to both England and New Zealand. But they restored some pride by earning a creditable draw against Olympic champions Germany.
Charlesworth, who was removed in the most unceremonious manner as India coach in 2009, however, remained cautious. “India are a good side, capable of beating anyone in the competition. But they have to believe in themselves to get some good results.”
The Australian coach is also aware there could be good number of fans in the stands to cheer the home side. “India are unusually much better at home than elsewhere… a bit like their cricket team. They are playing well and the crowd helped them yesterday (Monday). So, we have to keep building on what we have done so far in the tournament,” he said.
Walsh said India have a long way to go. Asked about his plans against Australia, he said: “ I am taking this tournament as a building phase as we move forward.”
India captain Sardar Singh sounded optimistic. “The boys are motivated after the draw against Germany. But it will be a different game against Australia and we will try to give our best on the pitch. Our focus will be on making fewer mistakes,” he said.
In other quarter finals, confident England, unbeaten in the tournament are ready to take on Belgium; Olympic champions Germany play the Netherlands and Argentina take on New Zealand.