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2018 Commonwealth Games: Sjoerd Marijne Declaring India Favourites Against Pakistan
A sporting clash is never short of the political undertones, India and Pakistan will play against each other in their Commonwealth Games hockey opener on Saturday that is a match out as the blockbuster showdown of the preliminary stage. “We start favourites,” declaring India coach Sjoerd Marijne after his two-time defending silver-medallist team’s practice session here today.
More than the politics though, Marijne concerned about the high temperatures in the Gold Coast for their Group B match. “It is sweltering, 28 to 29 degrees and we play at 2:30 pm in the Local Time, that is a difficult circumstance. That is why we have to stay calm for ourselves,” he says.
Also, he does not want his side to panic if an early goal does not come along. ” it is happening, it is good, if not then we have to be patient. Let the ball do the work.”
The two sides’ in the last Commonwealth Games face-off happening eight years ago in the 2010 Delhi edition and it turns out to be a memorable outing for both the different reasons.
The Indians are ending up jubilant after slamming seven goals, but the Pakistanis were left to agonise after securing just four in that match. Overall, the record stands 1-1 between the two sides as Pakistan has the last laugh in the year 2006 Games in Melbourne.
The two teams squared most recently at last year’s Asia Cup in the Bangladesh where India is claiming the honours. Here at the Games, the two South Asian rivals are playing in a group that also features England, Wales and Malaysia. The Indians are also favourites to advance along with England, and they are aiming to get a perfect start.
And better to get the adrenaline going than to beating the nemesis from across the border. In fact, the Indians merely dominate Pakistan in all the four clashes the two teams were involved in last year. Under the guidance of a new coach Marijne, the form is also seeming to on India’s side, having claimed the Asia Cup in October.
Marijne is taking over compatriot Roelant Oltmans, who is interestingly now the chief coach of Pakistan after unceremoniously dumping by Hockey India in a bitter parting.
The team boasts of four penalty corner specialists in the Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas but this particular aspect of the game always has a bit of a bother for the team. It is remaining to see how much of a difference Marijne make to improves the poor penalty.
Manpreet Singh, has taken over from now out-of-favour Sardar Singh, will handle the midfield, SV Sunil and the power of Gurjant Singh will expect to lead precise attacks on the opposition citadel.
Speaking of the citadels, the ever-reliable PR Sreejesh will guard the Indian net. For Pakistan too, there has a change of guard on the coaching front with the Oltmans come in last month for a second stint their coach. The team has not good results in the previous few months, losing an early in Asia Cup before going down in four-nation invitational in Australia.
Giving the turmoil, they are not expecting to be much of a challenge to India, but then an Indo-Pak showdown has always known to bring out something special from both sides.
So much Australian captain is looking forward to it. That is the one people should get out and watch, that is colour, it is fair, that is excitement. It is the two sports mad nations going at each other. It will be fascinating,” he is promising.
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