Indian hockey

Coach Marijne wants inexperienced India to improve their defence at Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

The Indian hockey team will be contesting a series of high-profile tournaments later this year.

The Indian men’s hockey team’s head coach Sjoerd Marijne has again picked an unseasoned squad for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup starting in Malaysia from March 3. The 43-year-old said the tournament seemed “perfect” for giving the youngsters some experience.

Despite India’s recent good results, the Dutchman continues to chop and change the team as he believes it will “add to the depth of the side.” A similarly inexperienced India had finished runners-up in the Four Nations Invitational Tournament in New Zealand last month after losing a tense final to Belgium.

Marijne said the team management was continuing the same process of handing playing time to youngsters in Malaysia. “It’s good that youngsters can make their international debut and can compete at the highest level,” the head coach said on Tuesday during a media interaction at the Sports Authority of India in Bengaluru. “We have watched them in the junior camps, they are good.”

Coming back to lead the side after a gap of almost two years is veteran Sardar Singh. The 31-year-old was out of the reckoning for the Hockey World League Finals and the Four Nations Tournament. He’ll also be playing in the midfield – his favourite position.

Marijne, like many others, is looking forward to see if Sardar can make the most of this opportunity and solidify his place in the team and especially in the midfield. “He is an experienced player and having missed two tournaments previously, this is an opportunity for him to show his skills,” the coach said.

Defensive weakness

Marijne wants his men to improve their defence and goal-conversion in the upcoming tournaments. In the Four Nations Tournament, India conceded 17 goals in eight games. The weakness in defence, at times, cancels out their swift counter-attacks.

“We have to improve our defence and we are working on that,” Marijne said. “I am happy with the chances we created in the New Zealand tour but we have to convert them into goals.”

The improvement, he added, will be a little slow but steady. “We have 10 days to prepare after the New Zealand tour. That’s not much. It will not change in one or two weeks. It will take lot of matches to get better and better.”

“In the World League, we were the team with most circle penetration, but not the most goals. We worked on that. We were better in New Zealand. They also improved their consistency.”

The team will be contesting a series of high profile tournaments – the Commonwealth Games in April, the Asian Games in August and the Hockey World Cup in November – this year. Of these, the Asian Games is the most important as a title win there will secure the Indians an Olympic spot.

Asked if the team management will treat the Commonwealth Games as a preparation for the Asian Games, he replied: “No, athletes always want to win. We want to play with full intensity. Such games are good for them and eventually also good for the other tournaments. You go there to win and every tournament will help for the other tournament.”

Marijne also revealed the team is awaiting their new drag-flick coach Chris Ciriello.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.


Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.