Ipoh: India still win less after two outings, a demoralized India would be desperate to get their Azlan Shah Cup hockey campaign back on track with a positive result against a spirited Malaysia in their third league match, on Wednesday.
Under new chief coach Paul van Ass, India are still searching for their first win in the tournament following a 1-1 draw against Korea in their opener and then a 1-2 loss at the hands of New Zealand yesterday at the Azlan Shah Stadium.
But Malaysia, who are three ranks below India (9) in the world rankings, have shown in their 2-3 loss against world champions Australia that they are a tough nut to crack.
To add to it, Malaysia will have the home support behind them and it remains to be seen how the Indian sticks cope up with the pressure.
It is not that India played badly in the last two matches. In fact, they dominated the possession and were more creative on the turf but what did them in was their forwards inability to convert chances into goals and the fragile back line, which succumbed under pressure.
The Indians created plenty of scoring opportunities in the last two games but the strikers, especially Ramandeep Singh failed to deliver results.
With one goal apiece, Akashdeep and Nikkin’s performance can be termed as satisfactory but Ramandeep has been a complete let down as he missed easy chances in both the matches.
India’s problems have been compounded by the injury to young striker Mandeep Singh, who twisted his ankle against Korea and sat out of Monday’s game. He has swelling in his ankle and might take a few more days to recover.
The backline continues to be a bane for India and it yet again came to the fore when they conceded a late goal, courtesy some sloppy defending to hand New Zealand a win on Monday.
Despite enjoying better possession and ball control, India paid the price for letting their guard down when put under under the pump.
The Indians also need to work on their penalty corner conversation rate, which is their strong point in the presence of two high quality drag flickers in VR Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh.
Coach Van Ass was candid enough to admit that his wards need to reduce their mistakes on the turf to get results.
“It is unfortunate but there is nothing wrong with the way we are playing hockey. The level of play has been very good we are not getting the results. May be that will come with time. But I feel our mistakes should reduce,” he had said after the New Zealand match.