December 13, Bhubaneshwar: Indian Hockey team will look to get their historic win against Netherlands today to make an entry in the Semi-Finals in Hockey World Cup, 2018. India will face the Netherlands in the quarters at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar and will surely have the backing of thousands in the stands beside that blue turf.
The match will be significant for the Indian team as India has never been able to defeat Netherlands before and if they beat the Dutch team, India will be securing a place in the Semi-finals for the first time after 1975.
Harendra, India’s chief coach, said they have left no stones unturned and their preparation for the crucial clash are spot on. "Hoga to wahi jo hum chahenge (Eventually, it is what we want that is going to happen)," Harendra declared when asked about Thursday's vital encounter.
Indian Hockey team’s performance has shown a significant improvement since 2013 which has taken them to the fifth place of the world ranking. Although, the Netherlands team still stands above India with a fourth place. What makes the result all the more unpredictable is the fact that India and the Netherlands last went head to head at the Champions Trophy 2018, where the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
"The past results matter a lot because Netherlands have a better result against us. But, we have played well against them recently. We have also beaten them, drew against them at the Champions Trophy. Indian hockey has improved a lot. The match will be tough and whichever team plays better will win," Manpreet, Indian team’s captain said, mentioning India’s improvement over the past years while also not denying the fact that history favoured Netherlands before.
Both India and Netherlands have scored heavily in the pool stages. India have scored 12 goals and conceded three. The team will be relying on their strikers Mandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Akashdeep Singh to continue their good work.
With the Kalinga Stadium expected to be packed to its full capacity, there will also be tremendous pressure on the Indian team and the Dutch expected to be more than happy to exploit any mistake. However, India's chief coach Harendra Singh defended the team saying, “the crowd will not put India under pressure.”
"There is no chance that the opposition can easily be in the driving seat. The boys have tested the crowd and they know how to cope with them. The crowd have always stood with us," Harendra said. "We are prepared to solve the challenge physically and mentally. You cannot even take 25% chances in the knockout stage. You have to be prepared for the game”, he further added.