Bhubaneswar: As India men’s hockey team gears up for the Asian Champions Trophy, which will kick off on December 14, captain Manpreet Singh and vice-captain Harmanpreet expressed confidence about the team’s prospects in Dhaka where they will defend the title.
“We are in pretty good shape for Asian Champions Trophy. We are focusing on our fitness. After the Olympics, there was a drop in our fitness levels. So, now we are looking to regain that. Everyone is giving their 100 percent,” stated skipper Manpreet Singh during a virtual press conference on Saturday.
With several players, who were part of the Olympic squad being, rested for this continental event including stalwart goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, Manpreet said this is a good opportunity for young players to prove their mettle ahead of a busy season next year.
“Some of these youngsters have been patiently waiting for their chance and have been working really hard to find a place in the team. I feel this is a great tournament to test these players and it’s also a great opportunity for youngsters who have been given a chance to show their abilities,” he added.
The Indian skipper also addressed the team’s prospects in the tournament and what challenges they can expect in Dhaka. “The tournament is quite important for us as it is our first big tournament after the Tokyo Olympics. The new cycle has started for us. Doing well in Dhaka is important for us. If we start well, then our confidence levels will go high. There are major tournaments lined up in 2022. Our aim is to set our minds and body for them,” he added.
Harmanpreet Singh, who will be returning to Dhaka after the team’s fine performance in 2017 where they lifted the Asia Cup, reflected on their ongoing preparations and he also threw some light on the India Colts’ performance so far in the ongoing FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup 2021, which the Senior team is following closely.
“While we are going through our preparations for the Asian Champions Trophy here in Bhubaneswar, we have also been closely following the Indian Junior side’s performance and they have done well so far. I do have conversations with the defenders particularly as I had a few inputs to give them after their first match. I believe having four options for drag-flick is a big advantage for this young India side as it is hard for the opponents to predict the variations they can use.”
“I think if they continue to play with confidence, communicate well with each other and also play as one unit, they should be able to finish on the podium,” he added.