The men’s Indian hockey team started their maiden FIH Pro League campaign with a couple of contrasting wins over the third-ranked Netherlands this weekend and India head coach, Graham Reid was especially impressed after the comeback victory in the second game on Sunday.
"What was good that we struggled to win this match and sometimes, it's good to struggle for a win because you learn a lot and also it is proof to us that if we apply ourselves and use some aggressiveness, we can bounce back,” Graham Reid said after the game.
“And I believe when something similar (conceding goals early) happens to us again, we can be confident of making a comeback.”
Drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh credited the players’ maturity for the memorable victory. "If this probably happened to us two years ago (conceding early goals), we may not have been able to make a comeback. But I think our maturity, players taking responsibility and the coach's instructions of 'tackle and play forward' has helped us,” he said.
Preparations for Belgium and Australia
The Indian hockey team will face off against Belgium and Australia in the next round of fixtures in the FIH Pro League in February and Graham Reid explained what the team would focus on ahead of those games.
“I still feel our one-on-one tackling can improve and we have also been working on 3D skills to beat players in short space. This can help create penalty corners and when you have a world-class battery for it, we can definitely make use of this," he said.
The Australian also pointed out that the games would be considered as a knockout, which he felt would help the team stay motivated.
"I like the analogy of referring to these weekend matches as semi-finals and finals. This helps us switch on at the right moment. In the next few weeks ahead of our matches against Belgium and Australia, the most important thing would be to keep learning and improving," he said.
India will face Belgium in Bhubaneswar on February 8th and 9th, before their encounter with Reid's native Australia on February 21st and 22nd.