PIC: The India National Juniors Hockey players at Gurdwara Sahib Malacca.
INDIA are so serious about playing in the final of the Junior Asia Cup in Malacca, that their national coach Michael Nobbs flew to Malaysia on Tuesday from London after the senior side ended their Olympics Test Event.
Nobbs will no doubt watch the recorded Malaysian team's matches and help Baljit to plot Malaysia's downfall.
But it wont be easy, as Malaysia have also set their sights on
beating India today to achieve their golden target.
The run-up has been more than satisfactory, as Malaysia started with a
6-1 win over Iran, then a 6-3 demolition of South Korea and finally a
3-1 win over Japan to qualify for the semi-finals, as well as the Junior
India, on the other hand, has not been impressive as they were held 2-2 by Pakistan, edged China 2-1 and beat Sri Lanka 11-0.
"From what I have seen, the India team which played in the Sultan of
Johor Cup were much more matured and skillful. And after changing 11
players, this India side look like they lack international match
exposure," said Malaysian coach K. Dharmaraj.
Malaysia beat India 5-1 to qualify for the final of the Sultan of Johor Cup, and then beat Australia 3-2 for the gold medal.
"Even though this India team is looks much younger, but still, I
believe the majority of the players are from one academy or hockey club
"I'm saying this because their understanding is excellent and they
move up to attack as a team by carefully charting their path," said
India coach Baljit Singh said they were never under any pressure form
the start, as they were already in the World Cup: "Our real target here
is to win a hat-trick of Junior Asia Cup titles."
India had a 45-day preparation at two venues, Bangalore and Pune.
“We were fortunate that both the seniors and juniors trained at the
two venues simultaneously. This provided us with valuable sparring
sessions and it worked out just fine for us,” Said Baljit.
India and Pakistan both wanted to avoid Malaysia in the semi-finals,
so India scored 11 against Sri Lanka, but Pakistan hit 14 against the
"Obviously, Malaysia are the favourites in this tournament and we
wanted to avoid playing them in the semis, but now, we will play our
best to achieve our gold target," said Baljit.
India have pedigree, as they won the last two editions in Karachi 2004
and Chennai 2008, but Malaysia are in top-flight, and look set to
smash the India hat-trick dream.
RESULTS: Classification -- China x Iran x, Japan 5 Sri Lanka 1.
TODAY (THURSDAY): Semi-finals -- Malaysia v India (6pm), Pakistan v South Korea (8pm).