BENGALURU, JUNE 08
Indian men’s hockey team had a forgettable Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia earlier this year where they failed to win a medal after finishing fourth in the standings. Following that debacle, Hockey India (HI) immediately replaced the chief coach of the team, appointing Harendra Singh while Dutch Sjoerd Marijne returned to take charge of the women’s team.
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Their next assignment is the Hockey Men’s Champions Trophy in Netherlands which starts from June 23. Captain and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh is positive of India’s chances at the event saying the team is working on papering over the cracks and should they click as a unit they have in it them to go all the way and return home with gold medal. They are currently slugging it out in at the Sports Authority of India’s Bengaluru Campus.
The Indian team’s inefficiency in converting field goals despite improved circle penetrations have been a concern. Sreejesh reveals that the team is paying special attention in this area over the past two weeks at the camp. “We have paid a lot of attention to the positioning of forwards in the striking circle, Sreejesh said. “Coach has not just drawn out the position chart for the strikers and explained in theory, but has also walked them through the positioning to ensure they don’t repeat the mistakes made at 2018 CWG because of which we missed out on scoring critical goals. Front-line defence is also one of the key areas we have paid extra attention to.”
After the 18-member national squad was announced last week, the Indian team under chief coach Harendra has upped the ante knowing well that the Champions Trophy in Netherlands, with world’s top teams including Olympic Champions Argentina, defending World Champions Australia, world no.3 Belgium, hosts Netherlands and Pakistan in fray for the title, offers the right platform to test themselves ahead of the World Cup in Bhubaneswar later this year.
At the camp in Bengaluru, the focus has remained on maintaining the right structure with emphasis on team’s on-field communication, following basics to keep ball possession, front-line defence, counter control and penalty corner defending.
BENGALURU, JUNE 08