India’s chief coach Graham Reid on Tuesday said the defending champions would like to take cue from Malaysia and exploit the vulnerability of European giants Belgium in the quarterfinal of the FIH Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup.
India will take on Belgium in a re-match of the 2016 edition final where the hosts emerged 2-1 winners to claim their second Junior World Cup title in Lucknow.
And Reid, who guided the Indian senior team to a historic bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, said the key to success in Wednesday’s game is to play natural hockey.
“You see the DNA comes down from the senior team, and the senior team is world no 1,” the Australian said about Belgium.
“You also saw some vulnerability which the Malaysians exploited and we will look to do the same. The team that can come out and play their natural game will be the winners.”
Malaysia produced a fine defensive display to hold Belgium 1-1 in the pool stages of the tournament.
But Reid warned his boys to guard against complacency if they wish to secure a third Junior World Cup title and second on the trot.
“I don’t really think that should be a problem, as far as taking these guys easy. Add to that the fact that we played them in the final. They (Belgium) do have a history of being really good...For the last 10 years, Belgium have been performing at that level. Hopefully, our guys can stay switched on. The real test comes tomorrow,” he said.
In a big blow for India, striker Maninder Singh has been ruled out of the tournament with a hamstring injury and has been replaced by Bobby Singh in the squad.
Maninder has been one of the key performers for India in the tournament so far, setting up goals for the forwardline.
“Unfortunately, we had been forced to make this decision today. Maninder has been replaced by Bobby Singh. It’s always disappointing when someone’s dream is shattered like that... Unfortunately, that’s what elite sport is,” Reid said.
Asked how difficult it is to coach India colts compared to the senior players, Reid said: “Again, that’s one of the tough parts when you are coaching someone who is a bit younger.
“Patience doesn’t come naturally to young boys. Kids of that age want things to happen. Trying to stay patient, move the ball around and be disciplined is something we try to instill in them... But it’s a fine line, between disrupting the flow that is. When you see Belgium play, you see that patience because it has been ingrained in them while growing up.”
With three quality drag-flickers in vice-captain Sanjay Kumar, Araijeet Singh Hundal and Shardanand Tiwari in its ranks, Indian team looks to be in safe hands, Reid said.
“What is becoming prominent is we have really quality drag-flickers coming through, which is a nice thing.”
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