The team needs to be more consistent: Manpreet Singh
The Indian men's hockey team qualified for Tokyo 2020 after beating Russia 11-3 together in Bhubaneswar in the FIH Qualifiers earlier this month. Indian captain Manpreet Singh, considered one of the best midfielders in international hockey and the engine that drives the Indian team, believes his team should be more clinical.
We lack consistency and it is an area in which we must improve significantly. One day we are beating the most outstanding team in the world and the next day we are losing to a team whose ranking is well below us. We have to be more disciplined and ruthless in our approach, Manpreet tells TOI.
It is true that this Indian team can compete against better teams, but their defense remains a concern. Both of them Akashdeep Singh and Mandeep Singh It must be more clinical in front of the goal, not only in terms of shooting the target, but also of winning penalty corners. This will allow Harmanpreet singh and Rupinder Pal Singh para poner en práctica sus habilidades de arrastrar and soltar.
"With only nine months left, we need to look at all areas - penalty corner conversions, attack and defence. We will have to work on creating more scoreboard pressure on our opponents in Olympics," says the 27-year-old from Jalandhar.
Indian skipper also says playing against top teams during the upcoming FIH Pro League will be ideal to get tuned to high-pressure situations. After opting out of the league's first season last year, India will make its debut at the FIH Pro League against the Netherlands in a home fixture on January 18 and 19. India will host their first six matches. After facing the Dutch, they will take on Belgium on February 8-9 followed by matches against defending champions and world No 1 Australia on February 22-23. Nine teams, both and men women, will part of the league.
The Pro League is a replica of the Olympic Games, according to me. Each match will be intense, each match will be Olympic level. In Pro League, we will have the opportunity to handle the pressure against the best teams, which will benefit us in the Olympic Games, says Manpreet.
As in women's hockey, the position of head coach was also a revolving door, especially in the last five years. The team went through three coaches in the last 16 months. Former Australia coach Graham reid was appointed as the head coach in April which was left vacant following Harendra Singh's resignation in January. Adapting to varying coaching styles and philosophies may appear tough, but Manpreet begs to differ.
"We've never found it hard to adjust to any coach. Because coaches adapt to the team they have; they don't have one fixed style. They always take their time and see what they have to do. It's the same with Graham," says Manpreet.
This will be the third Olympics for Manpreet. He has been the part of London 2012 and Rio 2016 and the mid-fielder believes that third time he will be lucky for him and he will have a podium finish in Tokyo. "I think, I have an unfinished business. You always dream of an Olympics podium finish. We have to bring our A game to win that medal" says Manpreet. India had last won an Olympic gold at Moscow Olympics in 1980.