The Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams recently qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games with stellar performances at Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium. While the women’s team needed to fight off a resolute comeback from a defiant United States of America, the men bagged a convincing 7-1 win over Russia to seal their place for yet another Olympics.
Speaking of that second leg performance, the Indian men’s team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh said: “The idea was to not change things around too much from the first leg. Russia’s team played really well and their early goal caused a shaky period for us.”
“But after that, the team responded well. We always had the confidence and we raised our levels, scoring a few goals. That scoreboard pressure is what caused the Russian team to crumble and helped us get over the line,” added the veteran goalkeeper.
Pro League experience
With the Olympic qualification task out of the way, the Indian men will now turn their attention to the FIH Pro League which is slated to begin in the middle of January next year. India can expect a stern test in that competition with several top-ranked sides like Belgium, Netherlands and Australia participating.
The Indian shot-stopper believes the Pro League opportunity will be a great learning curve for his side before the 2020 Tokyo Games.
“Our first hurdle was qualifying for the Olympics and next is the big preparation for the Pro League. We all know how important that competition is, especially prior to the Olympics. Every match will be important for us and the experience of playing in such a major tournament against the top sides will help us prepare better for Tokyo 2020.”
India will kick off its FIH Pro League campaign with two home games against the Netherlands on January 18 and 19 followed by home and away fixtures right up to June 2020.