Image Courtesy: @TheHockeyIndia
Bhubaneswar: Having given a good account of themselves in the draw against mighty Belgium in their previous match, India will face another crucial encounter when they take on potentially tricky Canada in their last Pool C game here on Saturday.
With four points each from two matches, both India and Belgium are favourites to advance to the knockout stages from the pool. The Indians are at the top spot thanks to a superior goal difference.
With only the pool winners earning a direct spot into the quarter-finals, a win against Canada will ensure that the hosts do not have to endure an extra knockout round.
Beating Canada should not be a tall task for the Indians, particularly given their performance in the first two matches.
They were off to an explosive start with a 5-0 thrashing of South Africa in their campaign opener. They then did well to hold Belgium to a 2-2 draw in their last match.
Looking relaxed on the eve of the match against Canada, India's chief coach Harendra Singh asserted that his boys are determined to top the pool and will be playing a different brand of hockey in their last pool match.
"The team will be playing a different kind of hockey tomorrow. We have a target and we have to achieve it," he said.
"We want India to finish at the top of Pool C and do not want the Indian defenders to concede any goal in the coming match against Canada," he added.
Harendra said the team is completely relaxed and fit.
"The team is in a better position in terms of goal average compared to Belgium. So, there is no need to think more on that. Let's see how Belgium is performing," the coach said.
On Saturday, the Indians will also have one eye on Belgium's last pool match against South Africa. In case both India and Belgium win their respective matches, then the pool winner will be decided on goal difference.
India captain Manpreet Singh was also in a confident mood.
"We got five days break after the match against Belgium. While we concentrated on fitness, we also got time to study the opponent team," he said.
He further said that they will try to give minimum chances to Canada and convert the Indian chances into goals.
Canada coach Paul Bundy believed his team is pretty strong in defense and all players are very fit, which have worked well for them at the world cup.
He hoped they will put up a good performance against India.
"India will be the team under pressure while we will just look to play a competitive brand of hockey," Bundy said.