Captain Manpreet Singh Says India Gave Too Many Chances To Belgium

“We played impressive hockey today but gave too many open chances to the opponents in the first half. We were not able to control our game. However, we defended well in the second half and blocked all their attempts to score,” Manpreet said after the match.

Belgian player Alexander Hendrickx scored the first goal of the match in the eighth minute. The spectators witnessed no goals from either side in the second quarter and Belgium went into half-time with a 1-0 lead.

Harmanpreet Singh scored an equaliser in the 39th minute and Simranjeet Singh found the back of the net in the 47th minute to put India on top. However, the celebration was short-lived for India as Simon Gougnard struck an equaliser for the visiting team in the 56th minute.

Despite the draw, India are currently on the top in the Pool C points table with four points in two matches. Up next, they will take on Canada in the last group stage match of the mega-event.

Manpreet has set his sights on the clash against Canada, and said India will look to convert every opportunity in the crucial match.

“Now, the focus in on Canada. We need to win that match by a good margin to top the pool table. We will look to capitalise on our basic skillset and convert every opportunity into a goal,” he said.

Commenting on India’s position in the tournament, India head coach Harendra Singh said: “I think it (competition) is wide open. With goal difference we are plus five and they are plus two, but it all comes down to that last game.”

“We can forget about the two previous games, the next match is the one that will decide if we are in the quarter-final,” he added.

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Need To Avoid Complacency During Hockey Asian Champions Trophy, Says Manpreet Singh

Even as the disappointment of losing to Malaysia in the semi-final of the 18th Asian Games still lingers on in Manpreet Singh’s mind, the mid-fielder urged the Indian hockey team to guard against complacency as they prepare for the Asian Champions Trophy starting on October 18. Manpreet, who was named the India skipper for the tournament, conceded that they were “slightly overconfident” of being the continent’s number one team during the Asiad but wants his side to avoid such things going in to the Asian Champions Trophy.

In the Asian Champions Trophy too, World No.5 India are the highest ranked side among the participating nations.

“It was a tournament we should have won and the disappointment of losing to Malaysia in the semi-final still haunts us,” stated the midfielder.

“At the Asian Games, I think we were slightly overconfident that we are Asia’s No.1 team and this complacency is what we need to avoid during the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 if we want to retain the title. Post the semi-final loss, the team had several meetings to understand where we went wrong and watched the videos from that match numerous times. When we regrouped for the national camp, we told ourselves it’s time to move on and we cannot let the past affect our chances at the upcoming two big tournaments,” he added.

Over the past three weeks, the Indian team has been put through the grind at the Kalinga Stadium — the venue for the FIH World Cup next month. Doing well at the Asian Champions Trophy will be integral in their preparations for the mega event on home soil.

The captain stated that the challenging weather conditions in Bhubaneswar will help them acclimatise to the humid playing conditions in Oman.

“The playing conditions in Oman will be similar to Bhubaneswar and we are training hard, sometimes train till late in the night as some of our matches start late in the Asian Champions Trophy.”

“Our aim going into the tournament is simple. We play to our potential against every team without taking anyone including Oman lightly. There won’t be any room for complacency. We have watched videos of how each of these teams play and we are prepared for the challenge,” he added.

India, the defending champions will take on hosts Oman in their tournament opener on October 18 before taking on arch-rivals and previous edition’s runners-up Pakistan in their second round robin match on October 20.

The Manpreet Singh-led squad will then play reigning Asian Games champions Japan the next day before facing Malaysia on October 23.

India’s final round robin match will be on October 24 against South Korea. The semi-finals will be played on October 27 with the final slated for October 28.

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India Targeting Hockey Gold At Asiad, Says Captain Manpreet Singh

Riding high on the runners-up performance at last month’s Champions Trophy, India hockey captain Manpreet Singh is targeting the gold medal at the upcoming Asian Games. The Indians, who had reached the Champions Trophy final at the earlier edition in 2016 as well, held formidable Australia to a 1-1 draw in the title clash of this year’s tournament before going down in the penalty shoot-out. Manpreet asserted that the confidence of his team mates are now at a high and they are looking forward to defending their title at the Asian Games which is due to be held in Indonesia from August 18. A successful title defence will also ensure an automatic spot at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“We have only one aim. We have to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. We will only be happy with the gold, nothing less than that,” Manpreet told IANS on Friday.

The Champions Trophy was the first tournament for India coach Harendra Singh after taking over the reigns from previous incumbent Sjoerd Marijne.

While he admitted that Marijne’s ideas left a strong imprint on the team, Manpreet was confident that Harendra’s approach of letting the Indians play their natural aggressive style will produce results over the long term.

“He is a good coach with a positive attitude. Every coach has his own approach and tactics. We have to play according to his ideas,” the midfielder said.

“Every coach wants to utilise the natural ability of Indians which is attacking hockey. Every coach wants to keep this as a strong point and works on this aspect,” he added.

“Counter attack is a strong point of the Indian team due to our speed. So all the coaches who have come have always worked on this feature of our game.”

The 26-year-old also said that the Indians are focussing on improving their fitness and penalty corner conversion.

“Preparations are going on well. We are focussing more on our fitness and our finishing. We are also paying a lot of attention to penalty corner conversion,” Manpreet said.

“We analyse every team. We try to ensure that whatever mistakes we commit is not repeated,” he added.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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