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2008 Azlan Shah Cup
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Alam: "India cannot score thro' PCS" (5/15/2008)
War of Words marks in the run up to the India Pakistan Clash

“We have studied him minutely, he cannot score against us. And we are not scared of him either, not at all”. This is what Pakistan coach Naved Alam said on asked about Pakistan’s perspective of Sandeep Singh in the Azlan Shah Cup.

Alam’s words of courage comes on the eve of India taking on Pakistan today (Thursday) in a crucial match for both teams.

Being its last league match, Pakistan needs an outright win to reach the final whereas India’s fate will be decided later as it has another match to play for after Pakistan’s.

Naved Alam’s confidence stems from the fact that they have studied Sandeep Singh’s movements using a software and as such are sure he is not their fear.

“Not just Sandeep Singh, India cannot score through penalty corners at all”, Alam further clarified.

“Instead, we know both your defenders (Sandeep Singh and Diwakar Ram) are tentative in their defence. They play safe, thus lack initiative. We will focus on their weaknesses and try to exploit”, he elaborated.

On told about rival team coach’s assertion, Indian coach Ajay Kumar Bansal brushed aside it with his characteristic nonchalance. He simply said, “Let us wait and see’.

Bansal, on second thought, later added, “Probably, they are afraid of our penalty corner battery. Both Sandeep and Diwakar are in form, and are delivering. He perhaps wants to send the message through you (writer). Certainly for sure we won’t be fooled by words. Let us see them on the field. Sandeep Singh or not, we are working for win. Rest depends on the match tempo”

India-Pakistan matches are always crowd puller here and the stands are expected to be full for the all important match.

Pakistan team was going great guns till they met Belgium on Wednesday. The defeatless Pakistan was brought down to earth (3-5) in a fast pitched match by the only European in the fray. Pakistan therefore in desparate need to defeat India and enter the final to prove their other wins are not fluke.

After the hectic Belgium match, the Pakistanis are tired and drained. But their rivals India had the luxury of rest for two days. The team yesterday went to a sea resort and relaxed. Will the relaxed Indians exploit the favourable conditions? It remains to be seen.

Otherwise the Pakistan side under the Zeeshan Ashraff showed enormous fire power, with strikers Md. Waqas, Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi doing their job perfectly.

Indian forwards on the other hand are struggling. 12 out of 17 Pakistan goals in five matches are field goals while India just has a mere 3 field goals. But it has 9 penalty corner goals in its kitty in just three matches and that’s why perhaps Naved Alam is playing a dummy, off the turfs of course.

The man who can change the fortune of the match today, Sandeep Singh said that he is playing against Pakistan after three years and looking forward to it. He is not aware of Naved Alam’s bold words.

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