India skipper Harmanpreet Singh hopeful about upcoming hockey Olympic Test Event in Tokyo
India’s skipper for the upcoming hockey Olympic Test Event in Tokyo, Harmanpreet Singh feels that the competition will help the side gain a better understanding of the venue and the weather if they are to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
India is yet to seal a place at the Olympics and will be involved in a two-match series against one of the 14 teams qualified for the Olympic qualifying event later this year.
"We are positively working towards making the Olympic qualification. Playing at this venue will help us understand the playing conditions there and we are looking forward to a good tournament," said Harmanpreet ahead of their departure on Sunday.
With India naming a relatively younger squad for the competition, the drag-flicker was of the opinion that the Tokyo event will also provide the youngsters with an opportunity to make a case for themselves ahead of the crucial matches this year.
"I believe this tournament is a good opportunity for youngsters to shine as we will all be watched closely ahead of the team selection for the Olympic Qualifiers," he said.
The selection committee has named the likes of Ashis Topno and Shamsher Singh for the first time in the senior team, while experienced striker SV Sunil will be returning to competitive action after a gap of nine months.
Meanwhile, Indian women's team captain Rani said the team is going with a realistic target of winning against the higher-ranked Australia. "We have done well against Japan and China in the past year but the one team we are looking forward to doing well against is Australia. A win against them will make a big impact on our team's preparations for the Olympic Qualifier," stressed the skipper.
Like the men, even the women’s team sees a number of youngsters being called up for the tournament. Sharmila Devi has been included for the first time, while Reena Khokhar will be eager to return to action after having been sidelined to an injury.
The men's team begin their campaign against their Asian rivals Malaysia on August 17 while the women will take on hosts Japan on the same day.