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Valuable lessons learnt ahead of quarterfinal: Van Ass

Paul van Ass

Antwerp (Belgium):  Indian coach Paul van Ass is imploring his wards to be fast learners and take the lessons from the preliminary round into the encounter against Malaysia in the Hockey World League Semifinals.

Asian Games gold medallists India are aware of the threat posed in Wednesday’s quarterfinal contest by Malaysia, who will draw confidence for the 3-2 victory in the last encounter between them during the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh two months ago.

Starting with unimpressive wins over France and Poland, the misfiring Indians were held to a 2-2 draw by sub-continental rivals Pakistan before being at the receiving end of a 2-6 drubbing at the hands of World champions Australia in the last league match yesterday.

Australia stamped their authority over India with two early goals, leaving India with plenty of work to do in deep defence.

“We ought to take the lessons learnt from this game into the quarterfinal contest with Malaysia,” said van Ass, aware that any let-up will give Malaysia an opening to capitalise upon.

“There were some valuable lessons learnt during the pool matches here.”

“We have got hammered when we did not play well, this must not be forgotten,” said van Ass, who can afford not to get too tense ahead of this encounter as India’s place in next year’s Olympic Games is not entirely dependent upon this knock-out fixture.

Having already qualified for the Rio Olympics by virtue of their Asian Games gold medal, India came into the tournament with long-term perspective in mind. Giving a good show despite the presence of several youngsters in the squad is one of the targets set by van Ass, who took over as India’s coach just a few months ago.

“We should be able to set the pace of the match,” said van Ass as he braces for the game against Malaysia. “Against Australia, we could do little when we got caught in the rhythm set by the World champions.”

Australia, who last year completed a hat-trick of three consecutive World Cup victories, duly took their appointed position atop the Pool A standings with the maximum 12 points from four outings, while India finished second with seven points. Pakistan and France were the other two teams to make the quarterfinals from this pool.

But the quarterfinal lineup was not known until the last minute of the Belgium-Ireland fixture last evening, which Belgium won 2-1.

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