Indian hockey captain Manpreet Singh believes the Asian Champions Trophy, apart from being a chance of redemption for the team after the Asian Games disappointment, is an opportunity to test the waters before the World Cup at home.
India had lost to Malaysia in semi-finals at the Asian Games in Jakarta but beat arch-rivals Pakistan to win a bronze medal.
“We have had a tough few months as we could not achieve our target of winning the gold medal at the 18th Asian Games, but it is time now for all of us to rejuvenate ourselves and prepare well for the Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018,” Manpreet said before leaving for Asian Champions Trophy, to be held in Oman.
India, ranked fifth in the world, will begin their campaign against hosts Oman on Thursday.
“The Asian Champions Trophy will give the team a chance to face some of the best Asian teams, who will also be involved in the World Cup later in November-December. Therefore, we will try to produce our best performances and aim at winning the competition,” said Manpreet.
The Indian team facing world No 12 Malaysia, arch-rivals Pakistan, world No 14 South Korea, Asian Games 2018 gold medallists Japan, and hosts Oman.
“We have trained well during our national camp in Bhubaneswar, and have focused on minimizing the mistakes in our overall play. We all knew that there were areas that needed work and the team has been determined in making things right as we approach the biggest two months in all of our careers,” said the captain.
India are the defending champions, having won the title in 2016 when they beat Pakistan 3-2 in the final match in Kuantan, Malaysia.
“We have won the tournament twice before in 2011 and 2016, and we go into the 2018 tournament as defending champions. Our focus is on producing good performances throughout the five pool stage matches in order to qualify for semi-finals.”
“We have strong opponents in Malaysia, Pakistan, Japan and South Korea, therefore we will need to give our 100% at all times, and make sure that we play like the highest ranked team in the continent,” said Manpreet.
Six teams will play each other in a round-robin format and the top four teams will progress to the semi-finals in the tournament which will conclude on October 28.