Indian hockey is on the threshold of making a return to the Olympics after facing the ignominy of missing qualification in 2008. But it's not going to be easy even though France " their final opponents " are ranked 18th in the world.
The tournament has narrowed down to just one game now. The winner goes through to play at the Olympics, while the loser returns home empty-handed. India may have scored a whopping 36 goals in five matches, but if they falter at the final hurdle, it will be nothing short of a catastrophe.
India boast of a galaxy of stars that look set to bury the ghost of 2008. Here are five of them
Position: Full-back (defender)
The blue-eyed boy of Indian hockey grabs headlines for his unmatched conversion rate whenever he takes his stance on penalty corners. And his 11 goals so far in the ongoing Olympic qualifiers not only make him the tournament's top-scorer but also India's main weapon in the final against France.
The Deputy Superintendent of Police from Haryana made his international debut in January 2004 in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sandeep made rapid strides, largely due to lethal drag-flicks, which at one point in his career were regarded fastest in the world.
He was awarded the India captaincy in 2009 and led the team to a Sultan Azlan Shah Cup victory after a gap of 13 years. He was also the tournament's leading scorer.
In August 2006, the Arjuna Award winner met with an unfortunate incident after accidentally getting hit by a gunshot during a train journey when he was travelling to join the national team before leaving for the World Cup in Germany.
Position: Forward (centre)
Shivendra is a real opportunist in the striking circle with an enviable scoring prowess, which he has shown in the qualifiers with six goals in five matches. He can be a major headache for the Frenchmen.
Shivendra is largely known for his performance in the 2010 Commonwealth Games match against archrivals Pakistan where his two scintillating field goals earned India a thrilling 7-4 victory. In the 2010 World Cup, the striker from Uttar Pradesh was handed a two-match ban for deliberately hitting a Pakistani player.
Shivendra first donned India colours in 2006 in the series against Pakistan.
Position: Forward (outside right)
Sunil has been the latest star on the horizon for Indian hockey and the five goals he has scored in the qualifiers so far have enhanced his reputation. He grabbed eyeballs at the Champions Challenge-I in South Africa lately, with his blazing sprints and control over the ball on the right flank.
The striker's career hit a roadblock before the 2010 World Cup when he was ruled out due to an injury. But perseverance paid off for Sunil when he made a comeback in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup later that year and returned from Malaysia with gold on his chest.
He got his chance in the current tournament after an appendix surgery ruled out former Indian captain Rajpal Singh, who also plays as an outside right forward.
Position: Midfielder (centre-half)
Easily the most talented Indian player, Sardar is talked of highly by legends like Ric Charlesworth and holds the distinction of getting selected in the World XI for two consecutive years (2010 and 2011).
The Indian vice-captain is the architect of strategies, being the teams chief playmaker, and will be a major challenge for the French.
Sardar became the youngest player to captain India when he was asked to do the honours in the 2008 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Two years later, he was adjudged the player of the tournament in the same competition when India won gold.
He was part of the team when Indian failed to qualify for the Olympics in 2008 and will be determined that the national game doesn't stumble again.
Position: Forward (outside left)
Tushar may have scored just two goals in the 2012 Olympic qualifiers so far, but forms a lethal striking trio with Shivendra in the middle and Sunil on the right.
The striker from the land of warriors " Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh - made his debut when Dhanraj Pillai's career was in its twilight and India were looking for a youngster to break through.
In the 2010 Asian Games, Khandekar's goal against South Korea helped India secure a bronze medal.