Will India be able to book a berth in the Olympics after an eight-year gap? Will France break its jinx of four decades and make it to the quadrennial sporting extravaganza?

These questions will ring in every hockey lover's mind for the next few hours as India takes on France in the final of the Olympic qualifier at the National Stadium here on Sunday.

Tailor-made

The ‘Road to London' was tailor-made to see India back in the Olympics. The home team made the most of the situation to remain unscathed on its way to the final.

On the day of reckoning, it will be interesting to see how India, ranked 10th in the world, fares against a team placed eight places below. Whichever side holds its nerve will emerge triumphant.

Relentless approach

India's chief coach Michael Nobbs has always advocated a hard and relentless approach. The strategy has worked well for the home team which has won all its five round robin matches on its way to the title clash.

Nobbs had stressed that the side must win every match if it wanted to gain an Olympics berth. In that spirit, one can expect another action-packed performance from India which has scored 36 goals and conceded just eight.

Sandeep Singh has once again asserted his supremacy as the best drag-flicker of the country by scoring 11 goals, including 10 off penalty corners, and staying miles ahead in the race for the tournament's top-scorer spot. He will be an asset in India's endeavour to make it to London.

Silent contributor

While the strike force of Shivendra Singh, S.V. Sunil and Tushar Khandker has played its role well to earn important breakthroughs, the low-profile Sarvanjit Singh has silently contributed in creating several opportunities for the side.

The Sardar Singh-led midfield has to show its tenacity and the defence must work harder than ever to stop the dangerous French striker Martin Genestet and flicker Lucas Sevestre.

So far, the backline, despite its limitations, has managed to give a decent performance and no player has been booked for any serious infringement. The Indians have got six green cards.

France, on the other hand, has scored 17 goals after completing its league engagements.

If the goals conceded, eight each by both sides, are any indication, then the two finalists are at par as far as guarding the post is concerned.

Tactical battle

France, which lost 2-6 to the host in the round robin stage, will have to make a choice as to whether it will try to frustrate the Indian forwards or put pressure on the home defence.

The tactical battle would be a treat to watch.

Sunday schedule: Italy vs Singapore (5th-6th, 3 p.m.); Poland vs Canada (3rd-4th, 5.30 p.m.); India vs France (final, 8 p.m.).

Keywords: Olympics

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