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Coach Walsh wants Indian team to have self-belief

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Indian coach Terry Walsh wants the Indian team to have self-belief as it braces for the last preliminary league fixture against defending champion Australia in the FIH men’s World Cup, here on Monday.

Australia has already made the semifinals with four thumping wins, while India is in the fourth place in Group ‘A’ with four points after posting its only victory over Malaysia.

India defeated Malaysia 3-2 for its first win in four matches. India’s other point came from a 1-1 draw with Spain.

“India is a young team and we are moving positively. We need to keep belief in our ability to put up a good contest against the best sides in the world,” said Walsh, motivating his players to go into the game against Australia with a positive mindset.

“Our first objective is to ensure we don’t allow chances in the closing stages, and we should start taking our chances and play to a plan that we have prepared,” he said.

“I want the team to look at least for one point against Australia, but try for three points,” said Walsh, when asked what targets had he set for the team against the world champion. “If you ask me today whether we have the capacity, I would say “no”, but asked about potential, I would say “yes”,” said Walsh.

The coach said a positive mindset in the players can transform this team.

“Self-belief plays a big role in every sport, not just hockey,” said Walsh. “The boys understand the things we need to work on. The boys need to know when to be in the right position to score, take penalty corners and to close the gaps for the rivals,” he said.

Australia has faced little opposition in its league matches. The way it hammered England 5-0 showed that the team was determined to live up to the promise to present a World Cup victory to coach Ric Charlesworth, for whom this will be the last World Cup in any capacity.

Charlesworth already has the distinction of having won the World Cup both as captain (1986) and coach (2010).

Charlesworth also had a short stint as coach in India on an initiative of the International Hockey Federation, but left the country a bitter man following a fallout with the Sports Authority of India.

Suffering two defeats through last goals against Belgium and England — which are both vying for the second semifinal spot from the group — India had no opportunity to stay in reckoning for a semifinal spot, but had plenty to play for.

The Indians finished eighth in the 2010 World Cup, and have a chance to improve on that if they can retain the fourth spot in the group.

Spain, which has two points, plays Malaysia in the last game. Spain can overtake India’s current tally of four points if it defeats Malaysia.

Walsh said his team had been analyzing the game and working on match situations.

“We have seen videos and discussed them and now we need to slowly apply them to match situations,” said Walsh.

The coach said that captain Sardar Singh is a seasoned player, who is also trying to help him devising a strategy to counter ‘Kookaburras’.

Sardar said the Indian team was working on improvements after every outing.

“We’re working on several things and an important one about maintaining eye-contact and look out for your own players,” Sardar said. — PTI

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