With focus on the future, Indian hockey team on a learning curve

The Indian men’s hockey team, a relatively inexperienced team, found themselves in a difficult position in the ongoing Asian Cup. After sharing points with Pakistan in the opening match, the Indian team was led by Japan in the second match.

Sitting in third place in a group of four, India, the defending champions of the Asia Cup, face disqualification from the tournament at the end of the tournament period. There is a lot at stake as this is a World Cup qualifier and the inexperienced Indian team has faced some aggressive hockey teams.

The Indian team as the host has qualified for the World Cup, has a new squad for the Asian Cup.

Read: Despite better fitness, India’s youth hockey team conceded a last minute goal against Pakistan

The move to send a new team to the Asian Cup is justifiable. Hockey India is looking to create a group of reserve players who can step up to the senior team with enough experience and pressure. With a shorter Olympic cycle and an action-packed season including the Commonwealth Games, World Cups, and Asian Games now postponed, creating a healthy pool of players is paramount. Top of Hockey India.

Gain experience at the Asian Cup

Although defending the Asian title may be too far away for this Indian team, accumulating valuable experience is one of the important factors that the team must go through. And they understood exactly that.

Against Pakistan, the team conceded a goal at the last minute, enough for the opponent to win a light point and take away two precious points from India. The team’s corner switch – an arch-enemy – is also under the scanner.

Also read: India captain Birendra Lakra rues missed opportunity as Japan beat India 5-2

In the second game against Japan, the Indian team had a terrible first half, chasing the ball and answering the tough, aggressive questions the Japanese players posed.

India did well in the patches. They controlled the game in the midfield in the second half but with the goal of pushing ahead, the defense seemed to have a slight opening – enough for Japan to penetrate.

The positive that India has been able to gain from the campaign so far is their fitness. Team India did not drop their shoulders nor lacked firepower to take the lead.

The tournament was also Sardar Singh’s first assignment as a coach. The whole team is on a learning curve, which is clear from the second half of a good performance against Japan.

Although the Asian Cup will fall behind the Indian team, very quickly a talented group of players are looking forward to the World Cup and beyond, the Paris Olympics in 2024 looking good.

Also read: Hockey technician Sonia Bathla looks forward to the Commonwealth Games


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Emma Bowman

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