Indian men’s hockey team lost 0-1 to New Zealand to slump to its its second defeat in the six-nation Invitational tournament and will now face the formidable Argentina in its penultimate round-robin match, in Valencia on Saturday.
New Zealand’s Stephen Jenness scored the lone goal of the match in the 18th minute on Friday.
India had earlier lost 0-4 to Germany in their tournament opener before registering a fighting 2-1 win over Ireland in their next game.
India are now placed fourth in the points table with just three points from one win and two defeats. Olympic champions Germany and Argentina lead the chart with six points from two wins followed by Spain on three points from two games.
If India are to stay in the hunt for a place in the summit clash, Sardar Singh and his men have no option but to beat Argentina on Saturday.
Going by recent International Hockey Federation (FIH) rankings, India enjoy an edge over Argentina. By virtue of their runners-up finish in the Champions Trophy in London earlier in June, India leapfrogged to the fifth spot in the world rankings ahead of Belgium (6th) and Argentina (7th).
But it will be easier said than done as the Argentines are a tough nut to crask on the turf, which is clearly visible from their run in the tournament so far. The Indians will have to dish out a consistent performance and avoid making mistakes at the backline if they desire to emerge winners on Saturday.
India will finish their round robin campaign against Spain on Sunday.
The tournament is being held as a preparation for the upcoming Rio Olympic Games.