Sport

Published: Monday December 9, 2013 MYT 7:12:00 PM
Updated: Monday December 9, 2013 MYT 7:26:47 PM

It’s make-or-break time for hosts India

Indian players celebrate after scoring a goal against Holland in their opening Group C match in the Junior World Cup hockey tournament in New Delhi last week. Holland won the match 3-2. - events.fih.ch

Indian players celebrate after scoring a goal against Holland in their opening Group C match in the Junior World Cup hockey tournament in New Delhi last week. Holland won the match 3-2. - events.fih.ch

NEW DELHI: Three more quarter-final places are still up for grabs in the Junior World Cup and three Asian teams are in the mix as the group stage comes to an end today at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.

To date, five teams – Belgium (Group A), Australia and France (Group B), Holland (Group C) and Malaysia (Group D) – have reached the last eight.

India and South Korea clash in Group C and only one team will make the cut to join fellow Asian side Malaysia in the last eight.

Pakistan are the other Asian team in the hunt but face a tough hurdle as they need to beat European champions Belgium in Group A by a big margin to stand a chance of making the last eight.

Germany, second in the group with three points but with a better goal difference, have a better chance as they face winless Egypt in their last match.

Pakistan, the inaugural champions in 1979, will also go into today’s match without Mohamed Arsian Qadir who is suspended for two matches. He was red carded in Pakistan’s 1-6 loss to defending champions Germany on Saturday.

Skipper Umar Bhutta was unable to explain his team’s poor performance.

“It was a poor and disappointing performance against Germany and now we are staring at an early exit.

“Now we need to defeat group leaders Belgium. Winning is already a tough task but to score four goals is even tougher.

“But as long as there is a chance, we will try our level best. We will not give up fighting, no matter how impossible the task,” said Bhutta.

Like neighbours Pakistan, hosts India are also struggling for form. The hosts are third in Group C with three points after beating Canada 3-2. South Korea are second, also on three points but with a better goal difference of plus two.

The Koreans only need a draw to make the cut while the Indians have to win by two clear goals.

Indian coach Gregg Clark believes his team are capable of achieving the target.

“We had good goalscoring chances against Holland (who won 3-2) and also Canada. It shows that we can create the chances. Our problem is converting these chances into goals.

“I’m confident my players will get the result against Korea, just like they did in the last match against Canada.

The Indians, however, need to watch out for You Seong-ju and Seo In-woo. Both have scored four goals each.

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