IPOH: A young and inexperienced India will be eyeing a big win over Ireland in Ipoh on Friday to keep alive their slim hopes of qualifying for the final of Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament and hope for favourable results in other matches.
After a below-par outing in the first three matches, India rekindled their hopes by registering their first win of the tournament yesterday, mauling hosts Malaysia 5-1.
Before the win, India had earlier lost 2-3 to Olympic champions Argentina, 2-4 against world champions Australia and drew 1-1 against England.
World champions Australia are already through to the final with four wins from as many games but barring Ireland, all other four teams have a chance to make it to the summit clash.
Australia are leading the points table with 12 points ahead of second-placed and Olympic champions Argentina (7 points), Malaysia (6), England (5) and India (4). Ireland are already out of the race with four consecutive defeats.
But India’s fate completely depends on lots of permutations and combinations. For India to qualify for the final, they will first have to beat Ireland by a big margin and hope Australia beat Argentina and the final round robin match between Malaysia and England ends in a draw.
With four big-ticket events lined up this year, including the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, the Indians have opted to field a young and inexperienced side under veteran Sardar Singh.
India chief coach Sjoerd Marijne wanted to test all his options before deciding on his squads for the big tournaments.