India will play its last league match of the Hockey World League Final against Germany on Monday. Going by its performance in the tournament so far, it is likely to be too big a challenge for the host to overcome.
India was not expected to perform miracles before the Hockey World League Final started. Having lost both its games so far, the host is struggling to even put up any semblance of a fight. The team — except for goalkeeper P. R. Sreejesh who has done reasonably well — has been unable to plan its game.
India has disappointed the handful of hockey lovers turning up for the games with a complete lack of application. More than the defeats, it is the manner in which they have come that is a cause for concern.
The biggest problem for the team management, as coach Terry Walsh admitted, is the errors being made in basic skills. No amount of planning or chopping and changing can guarantee success if the players are unable to trap the ball or even stop it cleanly.
The format of the tournament, which ensures all eight teams would play the quarterfinals irrespective of league results, may allow some leeway but a losing streak would not help the team.
Coach Terry Walsh has already expressed his displeasure. “The mistakes we made were unbelievable. My job is to now stop the downward spiral in the team’s confidence and performance,” he said after the loss to New Zealand.
Germany, on the other hand, would be raring to bounce back after suffering a rare defeat to England in its previous game. German coach Markus Weise was diplomatic when asked how he rated India as an opposition but made it clear that nothing less than a win would do for his team.
In the other games, confident Argentina, topping Pool B, will take on a wayward Australia, which is yet to display the kind of incisive hockey it is known for.
Belgium, also seeking its first victory the tournament, will play the Netherlands.