India’s hockey coach Harendra Singh says his team has shrugged off the disappointment of the Jakarta Games and is looking forward to the keenly awaited contest against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat on Saturday.
Title holders India started the tournament with a 11-0 victory over hosts Oman on Thursday, while former champions Pakistan will take on South Korea in their first fixture on Friday.
“The competitive part of the tournament starts Saturday with the match against Pakistan,” said Harendra, who admitted the dejection within the squad when they failed to defend the Asian Games title in Jakarta.
“After the semi-final loss in the Asian Games, the mood was not good for a few days. The disappointment of not winning the Asian Games gold is still playing on the minds of the players somewhat, but we cannot keep thinking of the past,” he said.
India, however, managed to secure bronze with a win over Pakistan.
“We are now focused on this tournament and the side is shaping well. Nine of our players scored goals against Oman in the first outing here. A victory here in the Asian Champions Trophy will be a good path for the World Cup just over a month away. This tournament is close to the World Cup, we need competitive matches and we are getting them,” he said.
Pakistan Skipper Rizwan Senior insisted that his team is not thinking about the India game yet.
“Our first priority is to make a winning start against Korea on Friday. They have made about eight changes in their team and since we don’t know too much about what these new players bring to the team, we have to be quite cautious against them,” he said.