A good show at the Olympic test event will help boost the team’s confidence ahead of the Tokyo 2020 qualifiers, India vice-captain Mandeep Singh said on Thursday.
The Indian men’s hockey team is scheduled to play three matches at the Olympic test event in Tokyo, starting August 17 against world No 12 Malaysia, world No 8 New Zealand and world No 16 Japan, with the top two sides competing in the final.
“The test event will give us youngsters good exposure of how the conditions are in Tokyo, and playing there will also motivate us even further to secure a position at next year’s quadrennial event,” Mandeep said.
The Indian team, currently ranked world No 5 in the FIH Rankings, will be the top-ranked team taking part in the competition.
“We are going to play Malaysia, Japan, and New Zealand and these teams have great quality in all departments. On the other hand, our team has a lot of younger players with two debutants as well, along with players who will be looking to prove a point as we progress towards next year’s Olympic Games,” Mandeep said.
With several senior players like PR Sreejesh, Manpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh being rested for the tournament, defender and drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh has been handed the captaincy of the team.
The 24-year-old Mandeep, who is one the most experienced players in the team, will play deputy to Harmanpreet.
“It is definitely a new challenge for me personally to be given more responsibility in the form of the vice-captaincy of the Indian team. I take pride in playing for the nation, and to be able to get more responsibility, I feel it motivates me even further to bring more success to the country in the upcoming tournament.”
The forward, who has 142 International caps, will be linking up with SV Sunil again in the forward-line.
“SV Sunil is one of the most experienced players in our squad, and he is someone who I have always looked up to. It is great that we have the opportunity to link up on the field, and I am sure that we can enjoy much success in the upcoming tournament,” he said.