Johannesburg: High on confidence after their massive win over hosts South Africa, former champions India would be aiming to top their group when they take on a lowly Poland in their last Pool A match of the Champions Challenge hockey tournament on Tuesday. (Agencies)
Moving into the quarterfinal stage, India would be desperate to carry on the winning spree, especially after drawing 3-3 against Belgium in their tournament opener.
The seven goals against a formidable South African side has not just reinforced self belief among the Indians, it has also provided them a chance to top the preliminary group by beating minnows Poland.
Going into the final round of preliminary phase matches, both India and Belgium have four points apiece from two outings but the European team is leading Pool A because of their slightly superior goal-difference.
But a win against Poland will give India a chance of topping Pool A, which means that they will play the bottom placed side from Pool B in the quarterfinals.
The International Hockey Federation's (FIH) new format for the event assures all eight competing teams a place in the quarterfinals, but top finishers in the pools will get an easier passage into the semifinals.
Tuesday's match against Poland will also allow the Michael Nobbs-led Indian team management to assess the side ahead of the all-important Olympic Qualifiers in New Delhi next year.
India coach Nobbs, however, is pleased with the improved performance of his wards, especially the attacking formations, so far in the tournament.
"We're doing well with our attacking formations, but still need to work on our defence," the Australian said as the Indians took a well-deserved rest day after two tough matches against Belgium and South Africa, both having already booked their ticket to London Olympics.
Belgium secured one of the three direct Olympic slots available to European nations, in addition to hosts Britain, by virtue of their semifinal appearance in the European Cup.
Belgium's rise was at the expense of multiple Olympic Games silver medallists Spain, who fell behind and will now have to come through the qualifiers.
On the other hand, South Africa despite winning the gold at the All-Africa Games that assured them a direct Olympic spot, has been told by it's Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) to prove that the team is strong enough to be sent to London.
South Africa has been asked to prove their strength by making the final of the ongoing Champions Challenge or surrender the direct entry and then play in an Olympic Qualifier.
And Sunday's loss to India as hit South Africa hard, leaving the team management with lots of work to do.
India coach Nobbs also feels that his team too needs to do a lot of work.
"You saw some classic goals scored by the Indian team yesterday, but we're still a long way from where we want to be," he said.
"The youngsters coming into the team have done a fine job, but we still need to work hard on our fitness," Nobbs observed.
Five Indian players featured on the score sheet against South Africa on Sunday, with two goals coming from the sticks of former captain and star penalty corner specialist Sandeep Singh.
Johannesburg: High on confidence after their massive win over hosts South Africa, former champions India would be aiming to top their group when they take on a lowly Poland in their last Pool A match of the Champions Challenge hockey tournament on Tuesday.