Bhubaneswar, Oct 29: (PTI) An upbeat Indian men’s hockey team will aim for a disciplined effort and avoid unnecessary cards when it takes on Spain in the FIH Pro League here on Sunday.
The Indians produced a great fight?-back in the opener against New Zealand on Friday, rallying from 1-3 deficit to eke out a close 4-3 win at the Kalinga Stadium. The hosts will be eager to carry forward the momentum.
Down 1-3, skipper Harmanpreet Singh (42nd) and Mandeep Singh (52nd, 57th) found the net to hand India a morale-boosting win. Mandeep Mor (14th) was the other goal scorer for the hosts.
But it won’t be easy against Spain as in the previous season, India lost 3-5 to the same opponents in the second match of the double-leg tie after registering a 5-4 victory in the opening game.
The Indians will have to be little disciplined at the back and avoid conceding penalty corners and foul inside the circle, resulting in cards — the way Sumit received on Friday — forcing the hosts to play the last seven minutes of the match with 10 men.
India’s chief coach Graham Reid knows the potential of the Spanish players and said his team can’t afford a drop in momentum in the entire 60 minutes of the match.
“Spain is a strong side and has the ability to bounce back from any situation. It’s important for us to keep up the tempo in all quarters and not drop the momentum at any point in the match,” Reid said.
“I like how we finished the game (against New Zealand) and the team’s self-belief coming to the fore. It’s never easy to bounce back from a situation that we were in against New Zealand but it shows the team’s fighting spirit.
“But it’s important we play all four quarters with that same intensity,” he added.
For Spain it will be back-to-back matches as they play New Zealand in their first Pro League game here on Saturday.
Spain’s Argentine coach Max Caldas is aware of the threat India pose but said the visitors are motivated to do well.
“India is a very good side, they have done well in the recent past, including a medal at the Olympic Games. They display good skill and speed. Having said that, we are a motivated side,” Caldas said.
“We have prepared well and our focus will be the processes we have in place and executing them well. Every match in the Pro League is important for us,” he added.