BENGALURU: Anticipating tough competition at the Asian Games this year, Indian men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh says the FIH Pro League will be a perfect platform to try out new combinations for the big-ticket event in Hangzhou.
Manpreet had led India to their first Olympic medal in 41 years in Tokyo, where the team won a historic bronze.
“Asian Games will undoubtedly be the biggest event for us this year. Surely the competition will be quite tough at the Asian Games as all teams will be vying to make the Olympics cut (by winning gold),” he said.
Gold medal-winning country at the Asian Games, starting September 10, automatically qualify for the Olympics. India won a bronze in the Jakarta Games in 2018.
The FIH Pro League matches begin in February and India will play the likes of Spain, Germany, Argentina and England in Bhubaneswar.
“This year is going to be quite exciting with back-to-back tournaments all year long. We begin with FIH Pro League matches in February. After almost two years, we will be returning to our favourite venue in Bhubaneswar where we will play double-headers against Spain, Germany, Argentina and England,” he said.
“The FIH Pro League will help us gain some really good match experience ahead of Asian Games. Additionally, it will give us great opportunity to try out different combinations ahead of Asian Games,” he said in a Hockey India release.
The players are set to report at SAI Bengaluru for the national camp after a short break following their Asian Champions Trophy outing in Dhaka.
Manpreet said the camp will be important to assess their performances from last year and also plan for the year ahead.
“It was a very good 10-day break for all of us, spending some quality time with our families. I feel we have returned to the camp feeling mentally fresh and ready for the challenge ahead.
“We will be assessing our performances in 2021 with the Chief Coach and support staff and we will also draw up a road map for 2022,” added the midfielder.