SALALAH, May 26
India would look to continue their winning momentum after two commanding victories but they can ill-afford to drop their guard when they face arch-rivals Pakistan in a Pool A match of the Men's Junior Asia Cup here on Saturday.
India thrashed Chinese Taipei 18-0 in their opening match, before beating Japan 3-1. But they will have their first real test of the tournament in the form of a confident Pakistan who have also notched up resounding wins over Chinese Taipei (15-1) and Thailand (9-0). India captain Uttam Singh said the two wins had instilled a lot of confidence in his team but admitted that the match against Pakistan will be a "close contest".
"We have started the tournament on a strong note and we will look to continue with the same mentality against Pakistan. Our first two wins have given us the confidence we needed to go through the tournament. Pakistan have a strong team as well and it will be a close contest," said Uttam on Friday.
Uttam said India's defence was capable of facing the Pakistani attacks.
"We have a good defensive unit but Pakistan also have good attackers among their ranks. But we have faced similar challenges over the past and we are confident we will be able to restrict them from scoring goals," said Uttam.
The two teams last played against each other in the 2015 Junior Asia Cup final, which India won 6-2.
Since 2011, the arch-rivals have met seven times in the Junior Asia Cup, with India winning five times while Pakistan emerged victorious once. One match ended in a draw. India head coach CR Kumar said his players will have to remain calm and play to their strengths against Pakistan.
"Playing against Pakistan is always a challenge. But we have trained well and if we focus on what we have been learning over the past few months, we will be able to get a good result out of this game. We have to keep our calm and play to our strengths."
India will conclude their pool engagements with a match against Thailand on Sunday. PTI