Dhaka: Olympic bronze medallist Indian men’s hockey team will start their new cycle with a bunch of youngsters. These youngsters will be aiming to prove their mettle when India begin their Asian Champions Trophy campaign against Korea here Tuesday. India have won this prestigious event thrice since its inception in 2011. Two of the triumphs have come in the two previous editions held in 2016 in Kuantan, Malaysia and 2018 in Muscat, Oman. After the game against Korea, the Indians will take on hosts Bangladesh the very next day.
Their third match will be against arch rivals Pakistan December 17 and December 19, they take on Asian Games Champions Japan. The semifinals and final will be held on December 21 and 22 respectively.
Skipper Manpreet Singh emphasised on getting off to a good start. “Korea are a good team and are very capable of slowing down our attack. In this same venue during the Asia Cup in 2017, we had drawn (1-1) against them in the league stage. Hence, it’s important we don’t get complacent against them and ensure our basics are right when we play them tomorrow (Tuesday),” Manpreet said.
Manpreet also spoke about the importance of the upcoming event. “The tournament is quite an important one for us as it is our first tournament after the Tokyo Olympics. The new cycle has started for us. If we start well, then our confidence levels will only increase,” informed Manpreet.
Several youngsters have been given a chance in the India squad for the tournament. Manpreet went on to explain why doing well for them here will be crucial.
“Youngsters have been given a chance to be a part of the squad because some of them were unable to get a chance over the past two years as the focus was on the core team preparing for the Olympics. The youngsters have been working hard for quite a while, and hence, they have been given a chance to prove themselves,” informed the Indian skipper.
Manpreet also stated that the fitness level of the team is quite high. “We are in pretty good shape. We focused a lot on our fitness at the recent camp in Bhubaneswar,” Manpreet pointed out. “We are looking forward to see how the other Asian teams have shaped up over these past two years. The tournament will be a good test for our squad,” he signed off.