New Delhi: Back with a creditable silver medal from the Champions Trophy, the Indian men’s hockey coach Harendra Singh is determined to seal India’s 2020 Olympic berth in the upcoming Asian Games by winning gold. He said it will give the eight-time winners ample time to become realistic medal contenders in Tokyo.
Harendra, who returned to coach the men’s team for a record fourth time two months back, could not have asked for a better start to his new stint as India excelled in almost all areas before losing to World Champions Australia via penalty shoot-out in the CT final.
“As a coach I am happy with our performance but not with the colour of the medal because I wanted to change the colour (to gold) and we had our moments,” Harendra told this agency, Thursday.
“Now the Champions Trophy is history for me and our complete focus should shift to the Asian Games in Jakarta where I will settle for nothing less than gold. Defending the Asian Games title will secure our place in the Olympics. We will then have two years to prepare which I feel should be enough to be a serious medal prospect in Tokyo,” he added.
Harendra said he was pleased with the attitude and performances of his players. “The performance of the team has been satisfying. We had our chances to close the final against Australia in the third and fourth quarters but we failed and paid the price in the shootout,” Harendra pointed out.
In the Champions Trophy, Harendra fielded a balanced side blending the experience of someone like Sardar Singh and also the youthful exuberance of players like Diplreet Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad. It worked and India’s defence which had been under the scanner in the last few tournaments, put up an improved performance.
“We have improved in defence and attack as a team which was visible in Breda. We’ve improved with our fast counter-attacks and circle penetrations,” Harendra informed. “But we still have to work on some areas like positioning inside the circle and of course penalty corner conversions.”
India face Oman
New Delhi: Defending champions India will open their campaign October 18 in the fifth men’s Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) hockey tournament against hosts Oman in Muscat. The finals come off October 28. The other participating nations are Malaysia, Pakistan, South Korea, Japan and hosts Oman. The Indians will be favourite to retain the title, but will face tough challenges from the likes of World No.12 Malaysia and World No.13 Pakistan.