The moment of reckoning has arrived for Sjoerd Marijne's chargers as they face the first formidable test of their Asian Games campaign. The Golden Girls cruised to victory against Indonesia, winning by an 8-0 margin, and then took their game to a whole new level as they scored 21 goals to wallop Kazakhstan in the second encounter.
Post the World Cup, the Indians are now the highest ranked-team in Asia while the Chinese and Koreans have fallen behind. While Rani Rampal and co. have beaten China quite consistently over the last couple of years or so, South Korea is the only team that continues to challenge India's bid for continental supremacy.
Rani Rampal was rested when the Indian eves travelled to Donghae to defend their Asian Champions Trophy title in May. The dominant Indians eased past China, Japan, and Malaysia, playing fast and attacking hockey. In the last pool match against Korea, however, Sunita Lakra's team was unable to continue their aggressive streak and managed to force a draw.
In the finals against the hosts, yet again, the Indians looked out of sorts and failed to launch the kind of attacks which they had done so successfully against all the other teams in the competition. South Korea broke Indian hearts as they won by a lone goal thus preventing Marijne's side from winning a second successive gold.
Post the Asian Champions Trophy. the Indian camp has insisted consistently and vehemently that the defeat was the result of a bad performance on their part and not because the Koreans are a superior team.
Several senior players like Savita and Rani Rampal have stated emphatically that the Indians are well equipped to beat Korea and will set the record straight at the Asian Games. The confidence is not unfounded too as the Golden Girls did beat South Korea in a preparatory series before the Commonwealth Games.
Moreover, the Koreans failed to impress at London last month losing 0-7 to the Netherlands and also suffering a shock defeat to Italy. Korea earned a single point at the World Cup when they drew with China and subsequently lost to England in the crossovers.
Indian captain Rani Rampal was rested in the previous match against Kazakhstan as she had a thigh strain but is expected to be fit in time for the big match on Saturday. The Indians can ill afford to concede too many PCs as both Park Seunga and Cheon Seul Ki can be lethal with their drag flicks.
Both teams can boast of being title contenders and an intense and absorbing contest in on the cards.
Here is how you can catch all the action:
Event: Asian Games 2018
Venue: Jakarta, Indonesia
Date: 25 August 2018
Time: 6:30 pm Indian Standard Time (IST)
Telecast: Sony ESPN, Sony Ten 2, Ten 2 HD, Sony ESPN HD
Live Streaming: Sony Liv
Live Updates: SportskeedaPublished 25 Aug 2018, 07:45 IST