The Indian hockey men’s team have enjoyed a great start in the FIH Pro League, having won two games in normal time, two others in penalty shoot-outs and losing two hard-fought games, against Belgium, Australia and the Netherlands.
From these games, the Indian hockey team has enough insights to provide them with the opportunity to strengthen their play going forward.
"Good results against world's top three teams is no doubt a big morale boost for the entire team but there are a lot of areas that still concerns us,” stated vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh.
The Indian hockey men’s team is currently fourth on the table with 10 points, with Australia only being ahead by virtue of a better goal-difference and Harmanpreet Singh pinpointed how they had to work on both sides of the field to better that.
“Coach (Graham Reid) believes we can do better in terms of circle penetration, tackling outside the circle and not concede too many PCs,” he said. “A long camp will definitely help focus on these critical points.”
The Indian hockey men’s team’s next fixture in the FIH Pro League will be against Germany in April and they are using the break to practice at a month-long national camp at the Sports Authority of India in Bengaluru.
Savita Punia counting down the days to 2020 Olympics
The Indian hockey women’s team also confirmed their spot at the 2020 Olympics with a thrilling two-legged win over the USA eves and vice-captain Savita Punia is looking forward to a second-consecutive appearance at the Games.
“We all have reminders set on our phones that show the countdown to our first match in Tokyo,” she said. “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 in New Zealand was quite a learning experience.”
The side recently completed a development tour to New Zealand where they won two games and lost the other two by a one-goal margin.
Savita Punia also stated that they are working hard on figuring out what formation works best for them with Dutch Olympic gold medallist Janneke Schopman, who is the analytical coach for the team.
“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,” she said.
“Having Janneke Schopman 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.”
The big tournament for the Indian hockey women’s team before the 2020 Olympics will be the Asian Champions Trophy in June, which they had won in 2016 and Savita Punia believes it will be the perfect build-up.
“We feel the Asian Champions Trophy will be a good yardstick to measure where we stand ahead of the Olympic Games,” she signed off.