India men's hockey team is ready to face South Africa in their last group game in a bid to qualify for the semifinals of the Commonwealth Games at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre on Thursday.
Both South Africa and India have two victories in three matches, and a win here will seal a last-four place for one of them alongside Australia from Group A. India won their first two fixtures against Wales and Scotland, before going down fighting against the Kookaburras.
India, after conceding three goals in the first minutes against Australia, did not slump under pressure and narrowed the deficit to 3-1 heading into the second half. The Sardar Singh-led side showed determination in the next 35 minutes and made it 3-2, but the defending champions converted a penalty stroke to seal the encounter.
The Indian team put in a gritty performance, but made a number of defensive errors in the opening half. They cannot afford to be complacent against the South Africans and skipper captain Sardar insisted that his players are ready to face SA in a must-win game.
"All the players have been performing really well and I am pleased to see that the team has enough potential to take on any of the opponents and change the course of the game," Sardar said.
"Our next match against South Africa is a crucial match and we look forward to making our way into the semi-finals."
South Africa's skipper Austin Smith, in particular, will be a threat to India and they cannot allow him space inside the circle, with India coach Terry Walsh well aware of the danger.
"Our team has shown continuous improvement in the tournament to date. South Africa had some fine qualities in attack and we will be required to close down all avenues in their build up," Walsh said.
Walsh said his team will be tested against a tough African outfit and they will have to be at the top of their game to have a crack at finishing the Games with a medal around their necks.
"A semifinal position is at stake but more importantly our playing qualities will need to be in place for a good result," India's coach added. "India is potentially able to have a significant impact on this tournament. This match will be a good guide as to our abilities."
India Squad: Goalkeeper: PR Sreejesh (vice-captain)
Defenders: Gurbaj Singh, Birendra Lakra, Rupinder Pal Singh, Kothajit Singh, VR Raghunath
Midfielders: Dharamvir Singh, Sardar Singh (c), Danish Mujtaba, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam and Manpreet Singh
Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil, Gurwinder Singh Chandi and Nikkin Thimmaiah
Where to Watch Live
The first match, between India and Australia, is scheduled for a 4:00 pm local time (8:30 pm IST) start, with Live coverage in India is on Ten Sports and live streaming option HERE and HERE. The action will be available live on CBS Sports in Canada with online streaming option HERE.
BBC will telecast the games live in the United Kingdom, with live streaming option HERE or follow the updates HERE. Network Ten will broadcast the matches live in Australia with an online viewing option HERE. For International viewers, including the United States, the action will be available live on official Commonwealth Games 2014 YouTube channel for free HERE.