It is a battle of unknowns, if one may say so. For, the only time the Indian women's hockey team had played Poland was in its lone Olympic appearance 32 years ago.

Thereafter, there has been no contact between the two sides. Several generations of players have come and gone and the 7-0 win for India, which had finished fourth among six teams in Moscow, has got little meaning in the present context where the two teams are set to meet again on Tuesday in the qualifying tournament for the London Olympics.

India, ranked second in the event, is considered as one of the favourites, while Poland, slotted at the bottom, looks forward to achieve a decent finish and improve its status in international hockey.

The home team learnt its lessons from the 1-1 draw against Ukraine and fared better to beat Canada 4-1 in the next match.

With four points from two outings, India is placed third in the table after South Africa (6 points) and Italy (4). Italy enjoys the comfort of being at the second spot because of having scored a goal more than the host.

Poland, on the other hand, has put in a lot of hard work and has not allowed its opponents to walk away with easy victories.

It gave top-ranked South Africa a run for its money in a 1-2 loss. Later, it held Italy 0-0 till the half-time before going down 1-4.

India will be aware of these facts and has to guard against complacency against the Polish, who, given a chance, may become party-spoilers. The home team will use the rest day to reorganise itself for this challenge.

Against the compact defence of the Polish side, the Indian strikers will need to perfect their art of finishing, an area which needs significant improvement.

Besides, it has to rectify its mistakes in the defence. Coach C.R. Kumar has pointed out that the defenders should not lose possession by needlessly forcing themselves on the rival forwards. Trapping is another area of concern.

Strategically, a handsome win against Poland will boost the Indian team for its next immediate outing against South Africa, which is peaking with every match and poses a major roadblock in the host's quest for an Olympics berth.

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