“The focus is on our defence:” Indian Hockey team captain in preparation for the Asian Games

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"The focus is on our defence:" Indian Hockey team captain in preparation for the Asian Games | Sportz Point
India faced back-to-back defeats in the FIH Pro League despite Harmanpree Singh's goals. Image: FIH Pro League
Harmanpreet Singh, the Indian Hockey team captain feels they will have to be stronger defensively ahead of the upcoming Asian Games.
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The Indian Hockey team will be a major factor in India’s success and medal tally in the upcoming Asian Games in China. They will be heading to the tournament with a new coach and new game plans after their last few matches of the FIH Pro League. Leading to the Asian Games, Harmanpreet Singh, the captain of the Hockey team feels they will have to be more strong defensively as a team to win major tournaments.

In a virtual press conference, both the Indian captain and vice-captain shared their thoughts on the new coach, and game plans, preparing for the Asian games. Team India played back-to-back matches in the FIH Pro League after nearly two months under the new coach Craig Fulton. Unfortunately, they lost both games against Great Britain and Belgium. However, the Indian captain feels winning is important, but creating greater understanding within the team is more important ahead of the Asian Games.

“The two matches we played were quite different. Structure wise both the teams were different. One were zonal and one played man-to-man,” Harmanpreet Singh said.

“After the first match, the target was to improve step by step and we are doing that. Yes, the target is to play well and win but if I talk about the structure of the team, we are doing well structure-wise as well.”

“There are a few areas where we can improve. Hopefully, you will get to see those improvements in coming matches,” he added.

"The focus is on our defence:" Indian Hockey team captain in preparation for the Asian Games | Sportz Point
India faced back-to-back defeats in the FIH Pro League despite Harmanpree Singh’s goals. Image: FIH Pro League

Meanwhile, Harmanpreet’s deputy Hardik said, “As a team we were good. But, we have to finish quite well in our circle. We have to be more strong in our basics and everything. We were playing after Feb and March. Now, all our focus is on the next two games.”

Under the new coach, the Indian hockey team is trying to create some new structures within the team and both captain and vice-captain feel this is the right time to try new things before the Asian Games. “There will be some changes (after two back-to-back losses). But, not that much. We are trying some new things because we can try new things here and be ready for the Asian games. Of course, results matter, but the main thing is how we can build great understanding within the team,” Harmanpreet explained.

Although India’s focus is on the Asian Games, they have played very few games against Asian teams in recent times. But, Hardik Singh thinks although the formation and the playing style of the European teams can be different, winning against top European teams can boost confidence ahead of the Asian Games. “Yes, we have not played against the Asian teams recently but doing well against the top four teams in the world will give us confidence as a team,” Hardik said.

“All the teams in Europe are good defensively. So, if we are doing well against them, we can surely do well against the Asian teams,” Harmanpreet echoed his deputy’s thoughts.

In the current squad, the Indian Hockey team have veteran and experienced players like Mandeep Singh, who is just two goals away from scoring 100 goals for India. However, there are many strikers like Sukhjeet Singh and Abhishek who are yet to play their 50th match for the country. Vice-captain Hardik feels this can give the youngsters a great chance to learn from seniors like Mandeep and improve themselves as a player.

Along with Mandeep Singh, captain Harmanpreet Singh is a man of record as well. He recently became the highest scorer of the FIH Pro League with 35 goals and counting. The Indian captain senses the importance of that milestone but acknowledges that it is the whole team that is responsible for the record he created.

Honestly, I did not have any idea (about the record). For me, every goal that I score, the credit goes to the team. The forwards, midfielders and defenders know their roles and the ball comes from them and even the opportunity for the penalty corners come from them. So, the credit goes to the full team for the record.

Harmanpreet Singh on becoming the highest scorer in FIH Pro League’s history.

The Indian captain and vice-captain wished the Indian Junior Men’s team ahead of their Junior Asia Cup hockey final against arch-rival Pakistan. “Firstly I would like to congratulate them on qualifying for the world cup. Secondly, I would tell them to play their best hockey as the match would be intense. We have played against each other in Bangalore. You guys have been doing well and I believe you will do well in the final as well,” said Harmanpreet Singh.

“All the best boys for the final match. Every athlete trains hard to play in the finals of tournaments and win the trophy. They will have the opportunity to win the trophy after 2016. So, guys, just kill it,” Hardik added.

The Indian Men’s Hockey team will play their next match against Belgium tomorrow in the FIH Pro League.

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