New Delhi, Feb 25 : With less than 150 days to go for the commencement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams have expressed the need to improve everyday without being too complacent about their recent results.
For the men, who got off to a dream start in their maiden FIH Hockey Pro League campaign with a 5-1 and 3-3 (3-1) win against the Netherlands, 2-1 win and 2-3 loss against the World Champions Belgium, and most recently a 3-4 loss and 2-2 (3-1) win against defending champions Australia, the hunt to be a better unit will continue, pointed out the team’s drag-flicker and Vice-Captain Harmanpreet Singh.
“Good results against the world’s top 3 teams is no doubt a big morale boost for the entire team but there are a lot of areas that still concern us and when the team met after the double-header against Australia, it was decided that we will go back to basics when we meet for a four-week long National Camp in SAI Bengaluru,” stated Harmanpreet, who was adjudged ‘Player of the Match’ against Australia.
The defender-dragflicker feels the team needs to work on being consistent in all four quarters and focus on tackling outside the circle and also improve the conversion rate in goal scoring.
“We have paid a price in these matches for slowing down or dropping the tempo in between quarters. This is an area of concern in the lead up to the Olympic Games. Also Coach believes we can do better in terms of circle penetration, tackling outside the circle and not conceding too many PCs,” said Harmanpreet Singh. “A long camp will definitely help focus on these critical points,” he added.
Meanwhile, women’s vice-captain Savita said the team’s recent tour of New Zealand was a big learning curve in their preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The team registered a 4-0, 3-0 win and a 1-2, 0-1 loss against hosts New Zealand while they beat Great Britain 1-0 in their five-match tour.
“We all have reminders set on our phones that show the countdown to our first match in Tokyo. As we are getting closer, there is a lot of excitement as well as anxiousness to tick off all the boxes to ensure we are best prepared and our recent tour of New Zealand was quite a learning experience,” expressed the ace goalkeeper.
“While our on-going camp has been about improving our fitness, speed, goal-shooting, tapping the ball and tackling, we have also tried to play with different combinations that are effective in the attacking midfield and forward-line. There is a great sense of competition within the team to prove ourselves and this is helping in building competitiveness and improving as a unit,” she added.
“Having Janneke Schopman (Analytical Coach) as part of the support staff is also helping a lot because she brings different insights into our game and how we need to cope during tense matches. We feel the Asian Champions Trophy will be a good yardstick to measure where we stand ahead of the Olympic Games,” Savita concluded.