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India face New Zealand in 2nd leg opener

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  24 Jan 2018 12:00 AM GMT

Hamilton, Jan 23: India will aim to put behind the disappointment of a first-leg fil loss when they open their campaign against hosts New Zealand in the second leg of the Four tions Invitatiol Hockey Tourment here on Wednesday.

In the first leg of the tourment, India got off to a good start with a 6-0 win against Japan but lost 0-2 to Belgium.

But the Manpreet Singh-led side bounced back with a 3-1 win over New Zealand to set up the summit clash with Belgium.

India topped the pool table with nine goals, conceding only three in the pool stage. Belgium scored 10 goals but conceded six.

"As a team we have made progress match after match. We had four young players make their debut and even scored in matches which is good," chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said about India's performance in the first leg.

"We came close to beating Olympic silver medallist Belgium which gives us a lot of confidence going into an important calendar year for hockey," he added.

Althogh his team lost a closely-contested fil 1-2 to Belgium, Marijne feels the result was positive.

"You must understand that Belgium is here with their complete squad and they are one of the best teams in the world," he said.

"The fact that the youngsters have shown confidence in playing the world No.3 ranked side gives me more options as a coach and it is this competition within the team which will help us grow," he added.

But Marijne pointed out that missed opportunities continue to dent his side's chances.

"For me, most important is converting the chances into goals. We created enough opportunities but that's not enough. We must score more," he said on the eve of the opening match of the second leg. IANS

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