India’s hockey captain Manpreet Singh says the Asian Champions Trophy is not only a redemption chance for them after below-par show at the Asian Games but also an opportunity to test the waters before the World Cup at home. India had lost to Malaysia in semifinals at the Asian Games in Jakarta but beat arch- rivals Pakistan to win a bronze medal.
“We have had a tough few months as we could not achieve our target of winning the gold medal at the 18th Asian Games, but it is time now for all of us to rejuvenate ourselves and prepare well for the Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018,” Manpreet said before leaving for Champions Trophy, to be held in Oman.
World number five Indian team will begin its campaign against hosts Oman on Thursday. “The Asian Champions Trophy will give the team a chance to face some of the best Asian teams, who will also be involved in the World Cup later in November-December. Therefore we will try to produce our best performances and aim at winning the competition,” said Manpreet.
With the Indian team facing competition from World No. 12 Malaysia, arch-rivals Pakistan, World No. 14 South Korea, Asian Games 2018 gold medallists Japan, and hosts Oman, the tournament will give the Indian team the opportunity to avoid committing the mistakes like those happened in Jakarta.
“We have trained well during our National Camp in Bhubaneswar, and have focused on minimizing the mistakes in our overall play. We all knew that there were areas that needed work and the team has been determined in making things right as we approach the biggest two months in all of our careers,” said the captain.
India are the defending champions, having won the title in 2016 when they beat Pakistan 3-2 in the final match in Kuantan, Malaysia. “We have won the tournament twice before in 2011 and 2016, and we go into the 2018 tournament as defending champions. Our focus is on producing good performances throughout the five Pool stage matches in order to qualify for semi-finals.
“We have strong opponents in Malaysia, Pakistan, Japan and South Korea, therefore we will need to give our 100% at all times, and make sure that we play like the highest ranked team in the continent,” said Manpreet.
Six teams will play each other in a round-robin format and the top four teams will progress to the semi-finals in the tournament which will conclude on October 28.