The next three months will be all about bringing their best hockey to the fore and peaking at the right time to ensure the Indian Men’s Hockey Team seal their berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. In this pursuit, the core group has been put under the grind with special focus on their defending abilities. “The next three months is critical for us and whatever we are doing is with focus on sealing our Olympic Qualification in November,” asserted Indian Men’s Team Skipper Manpreet Singh on the sidelines of the on-going National Coaching Camp in SAI, Bengaluru.
The team is preparing for the forthcoming Olympic Test event starting 17 August where they will play New Zealand, Malaysia and hosts Japan. This event will be followed by India’s Tour of Belgium in September. “The good thing working under Graham Reid is that he has closely followed India’s performance over the years and he understands our game well so in that sense he isn’t changing our style and continues to reinforce that our attack and counter-attacks are our biggest strengths but the focus of our training is to ensure we are defending and finishing well with continued emphasis on speed and fitness,” Manpreet opines.
Though there are some injuries in the team with experienced midfielder Chinglensana Singh still recovering from an ankle fracture, while forward Lalit Upadhyay is recovering from a back strain and youngster Sumit undergoing rehab following an injury during the FIH Series Finals Bhubaneswar, Manpreet believes there are enough options in the core group who can soak up the pressure of International hockey. “These players are missed in the team and we are hopeful they will be fully fit by the Olympic Qualifiers. But I believe we have good players in the core group with International experience who can step up and show their worth for a place in the team by giving their 100 per cent in the Camp,” Manpreet said.
He further added that it’s important for the team to not come under pressure and just focus on their own performance. “Our main priority right now is to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games but at the same time we don’t want to come under pressure and be worried about who our opponent is going to be. Our focus right now is to work on our shortcomings and improve collectively as a team,” he said.