The Indian Men Hockey team is practicing for the Fintro FIH Hockey World League Semi-Finals and is gearing up for the upcoming challenge. Placed in the Pool A of the tournament the team will be seen clashing against Australia, Pakistan, France and Poland and will be aiming the Top 2 position in the Pool phase.
The team is looking forward to their matches against both Australia and Pakistan wherein with the former the Indian boys have proved to be dominant team in the recent clashes and with the latter the team will be looking at settling scores.
Speaking on the tournament and the challenges, Captain Sardar Singh said “The team is shaping out well in the last few practice sessions. Our new game plan of 10 attacking and 10 defending gives the extra boost to the mid-field position, as this will help in countering the counter attacks from the opponents. We are even working on our speed as we realize that this new strategy will work in our favor only if we keep pace with each other and not miss the vital passes.
Speaking on the challenge most awaited by the team, Sardar added “The boys are specially waiting to meet Australia and Pakistan. While playing against Australia we deliver our best hockey and playing against Pakistan is always something which we look forward to and a win against them will be very special.
The Indian Men Hockey team Chief Coach Paul van Ass spoke on the team combination and his expectations from the upcoming tournaments while Sardar Singh spoke on the learning’s under the new Chief Coach.
Speaking on the team selection Chief Coach Paul van Ass said “The changes in composition of the team is to try out different variations and how the team performs if put in a new situation. Rupinder Pal Singh is not part of the squad for the World League Semi Finals and the line of thought with this is to see how the team can perform and adopt to different situations. If we have the opportunity to try new combinations then it is good to try something different now when we have time rather than being stuck in a situation where we wouldnt have the time to try this kind of a variation. Also I am opting for new athleticism in that position while I understand we have one drag flicker less, we have to understand that it is selection time and you have to be the best you can be, while you also have to fit in to the tactical plan of the coach”.
Speaking on Jasjit and Yuvraj he commented “Jasjit he is a good player, quick on his feet and a very good passer. Yuvraj played great in the Japan Series and he has to continue to prove himself to remain in contention for the future”.
Speaking on the approach for forthcoming tournaments he added “The selection of this squad is keeping in mind the best possible team that we can create for the upcoming tournaments. RIO is the second step, the first will be the FIH World League Final to be played in India in December”.
Speaking on the young players “The plan of course is to create a bench strength but the players left out from this squad are not gone, we have a new core group of 33 players and from that group I can pick players and try new variations. This will keep players on their toes and they know thay have to keep fighting for a position in the team and this will continue until RIO”.
Speaking on National Championship the Chief Coach said “I have kept an eye on Akash Chikte. I like him because of his moves and his reaction time. He has to train a lot as for today he lacks knowledge in terms of what to do and when to do. But his strength is his reaction time and this quality in him gives me the confidence that we can build him up. I think we need to give the youngsters time and they will come up”.
Speaking on the training under Chief Coach Paul van Ass, Captain Sardar Singh said “We are making changes to our style of play. While we have always played 5 on attack and 5 on defence, resulting in the mid field position missing. But now the coach is teaching us to inculcate a new style where we will attack with 10 and defend with 10 and which helps us strengthen our play and position. We are even trying new team combinations where we are allowing all players to play in different positions and in different roles”.
FIH Hockey World League Semi-Final is scheduled from 20th June – 05 July 2015. India will be seen clashing against France at 09:30 PM IST in their opening match of the tournament on 20 June 2015. The matches will be telecasted LIVE on Star Sports.