Germany wary of Penalty Corner threat, India wary of late goals
Junior Men's Hockey World Cup Semifinal: Germany will look to keep the Indian team away from their circle to nullify the set-piece threat, but their head coach says there are other danger areas for his team too.
Germany remain aware of the threat India possess in set-pieces but will be focusing more on shutting the noise out when the hosts counter-attack in the semifinal of the FIH Junior Men's Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar on Friday.
Germany head coach Valentin Altenburg, speaking at an online press conference on Thursday evening, said, "The Spanish team in the quarterfinals, like India, were also very strong in penalty corners. We will try to keep the Indian team as far away as possible from our circle. The best way to defend against the threat of penalty corners is to ensure we do not concede them."
With four quality penalty corner specialists - Sanjay Kumar, Shardanand Tiwari, Araijeet Singh Hundal and Abhishek Lakra - in their ranks, India's strength in set pieces has been evident in the tournament so far. In their quarterfinal win against Belgium as well, the solitary goal had come from a penalty corner, with Sanjay's dummy having given Tiwari a sight on goal.
India chief coach Graham Reid said India need to be wary of Germany's penchant for scoring late goals, like they did against Spain in their quarterfinal.
"Germany have won this tournament more than any team in the world. You saw Masi Pfandt scoring a late goal against Spain, Germany are known for scoring late goals. It is in their DNA. They never give up, they keep moving the ball and they keep playing with the same intensity," he said.
German coach Altenburg, who was watching India's quarterfinal from the stands with his team, said the hosts came up with a complete display on Wednesday to keep the structured Belgian team out for 60 minutes. "This team can dribble, they can defend, they have great goalkeepers. We need to go with a defence-first approach," he said.
However, the biggest threat the German coach expects seems to be from off the field of play.
"We enjoyed the noise and the cheering in the stands when India were playing against Belgium, especially the increasing level of noise when the Indian team was counter-attacking. So the boys sort of know what to expect tomorrow," he said.
"It was also a very emotional moment for me to see senior Indian stars like Harmanpreet Singh and Manpreet Singh cheering for India's future stars," he added.