Pakistan to take on India in Hockey WC today

NEW DELHI: Pakistan Hockey squad is in high spirit to take on India in its first match in Hockey World Cup, to be played today (Sunday) at national stadium here.

“The first match against India is very crucial. If we win that match it will not only be a confidence boost for the boys but also give us psychological advantage going into the tournament,” the captain national hockey team told newsmen.

“It would be one of the most important matches of my life,” he said.

Zeeshan Ashraf said India would have the home advantage. “The match is crucial for both the sides, so pressure will be on both sides,” he added.

Pakistan coach Shahid Ali Khan said, “the India-Pakistan game is the biggest match of the tournament. Both the teams will be under tremendous pressure to win.”

“We will have a slight edge over India because we have played well against them in the last three encounters. We defeated them comfortably. But tomorrow’s match is all about sustaining pressure and making use of the chances,” he said.

Indian hockey plunged to a new low in 2008 by missing out on an Olympic berth for the first time in 80 years.

India will play with a handicap as they are untested. They did not play any international teams in the run-up.

In form of Sohail Abbas, Pakistan has one of the best drag-flickers in the world, while India has three penalty corner specialists--- Sandeep Singh, Dhananjay Mahadik and young Diwakar Ram.

Pakistan enjoys a better World Cup record over India as they have won the tournament four times - the last being in 1994.