Indian hockey should aim to achieve benchmark set by Belgium and Australia, says men’s coach Reid

NEW DELHI: A historic Olympic medal, notwithstanding, the Indian men’s hockey team should try to emulate the benchmark set by Belgium and Australia if it wishes to reclaim the gold in three years time in 2024 Paris Games, said the side’s chief coach Graham Reid.
While Australia has been a hockey powerhouse after the 1980s, reigning Olympic and world champions Belgium took the game by storm in the last 10 years by finishing runners-up in 2016 Rio and then winning the gold in Tokyo Games.
Besides, Belgium also bagged the World Cup title in 2018 before claiming the European championship crown in 2019.
“They (Belgium and Australia) are two world-class teams we saw in the final (in Tokyo). I think they are the benchmark and that’s what we need to be aiming for,” Reid told reporters during an open media session.
“If you look at Belgium, it’s a pretty good mirror to what we should be aiming for.”
The Manpreet Singh-led Indian men’s hockey team scripted history in the just-concluded Tokyo Games by winning a medal, a bronze, after a hiatus of 41 years. India’s last of the eight Olympic gold medals came way back in 1980 Moscow Games. Reid, a master tactician, said a strong bonding developed between the players during the COVID-19 forced lockdown was the key to success in Tokyo.
“If you go back 15 months, it was very tough for all of us because most of us haven’t seen our family for a long time. So it was great to go to Tokyo and finally being able to play. Competition before the Games was very limited and to play at the highest level, you need competition to keep improving and that was difficult,” he said.
“The group bonded well once we got there. I kept saying them don’t underestimate the affect of the last 15 months that can have on a team when you go through adversities together as a group and that helped in bonding and that’s what you saw in the bronze medal game.”
After a hard-fought 3-2 win over New Zealand in their opener, India were slammed 1-7 by eventual silver medallist Australia in their next match.
Despite the scoreline, Reid, a former Australian player-cum-coach, said the Indians actually had impressive statistics against the Kookaburras in that match.

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