India will face hosts Malaysia in the semi-finals of the Asia Cup Hockey at Ipoh later today for a place in the final of Asia Cup 2013. The pool B toppers sailed through their league matches without breaking a sweat, defeating Oman, South Korea and Bangladesh.
Unlike their opponents Malaysia, who lost to Pakistan 1-4, India have reached the semi-final without losing a single match.
Roelant Oltman’s boys hammered Oman 8-0, while neighbours Bangladesh also received similar treatment at the hands of the rampant Indians, who crushed them 9-1. Sandwiched between the two huge victories was a crucial 2-0 win over defending champions South Korea, which helped India top the group.
India’s drag-flickers Rupinderpal Singh and V.R Raghunath showed their form against Bangladesh by netting a hat-trick each in their last pool match.
Mandeep Singh is India’s top scorer with four goals in two matches. India do have a weakness in defence, which they should guard against the hosts, but India have a solid goalkeeper in the form of PR Sreejesh, who had a stellar match against Korea, helping his team keep a clean-sheet. With the knowledge that they have Sreejesh to bank on, India’s fragile defence will gain a lot of confidence, especially defenders VR Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh.
History heavily favours the visitors in this fixture. In the 101 meetings between the two sides, India have won 70 and hosts Malaysia have won 13, while 18 of those matches have been drawn.