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India take on formidable Australia

The Hague (PTI) : Buoyed by their triumph over Malaysia, India would face their toughest challenge so far when they take on unbeaten reigning champions Australia in their final preliminary game of the hockey World Cup here on Monday.

The Indians bounced back well to beat Malaysia 3-2 after losing back-to-back matches to start with and Sardar Singh’s men would draw from the new-found self-belief when they come face to face against the marauding Australians.

“The team is all set to take on Australia tomorrow. Our last match against Malaysia will act as a motivation as we are all looking forward to play the defending champions. There is positivity in the dressing room which will act in our favour on the field,” an upbeat Indian captain Sardar said.

India currently have four points from as many matches after drawing the game against Spain. Australia have already made the semi-finals with four thumping wins, while India are in the fourth place in Group A.

“India are a young team and we are moving positively. We need to keep belief in our ability to put up a good contest against the best sides in the world,” said coach Terry Walsh.

“Our first objective is to ensure we don’t allow chances in the closing stages, and we should start taking our chances and play to a plan that we have prepared,” he said.

Australia have faced little opposition in their league matches so far. The way they hammered England 5-0 yesterday showed that the team was determined to live up to the promise to present a World Cup victory to their coach Ric Charlesworth, for whom this will be the last World Cup in any capacity.

Charlesworth already has the distinction of having won the World Cup both as captain (1986) and coach (2010).

Suffering two defeats through last-minute goals against Belgium and England — both vying for the second semifinal spot from the group — India had no opportunity to stay in reckoning for a semifinal spot, but have plenty to play for in their last game.

Argentina win big

Penalty corner specialist Gonzalo Peillat’s three-goal burst kept Argentina on course for making the semifinals as they trounced Asian champions South Korea 5-0 on Sunday.

Bagging nine points from four matches, Argentina stay ahead of Olympic champions Germany, who are in danger of failing to make the semifinals only for the second time in the World Cup history.

In the other Group B clash, two-time champions Germany defeated New Zealand 5-3 for their second win in four games, giving them six points.

Sunday’s Results: Men: Germany: 5 (Florian Fuchs 2nd, Martin Zwicker 31st, 40th, Christopher Zeller 35th, Benedict Furk 57th) bt New Zealand: 3 (Andy Hayward 34th, 67th, 70th). Argentina: 5 (Gonzalo Pelliat 4th, 7th, 20th, Lucas Vila 12th, Guillermo Schickendantz 54th) bt Korea 0.

Women: United States: 4 (Kathleen Sharkey 33rd, 52nd, Caroline Nichols 39th, Katie Reinprecht 42nd) bt Germany: 1 (Kristina Hillman 60th). Argentina: 2 (Delfina Merlino 27th, Carla Rebecchi 70th) bt England: 1 (Alex Danson 7th).

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