Breda (Netherlands), 26 June 2018: After a sensational start to their campaign at the Rabobank Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy Breda 2018 with two back-to-back victories, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team led by skipper PR Sreejesh will take on the formidable World No.1 Australia on 27 June 2018 at the BH & BC Hockey Stadium here on Wednesday.
The Indian team earned their first winning points against arch-rivals Pakistan with a stupendous 4-0 win followed by a spirited 2-1 victory against Olympic Champions and World No.2 Argentina in a closely fought encounter to find themselves on top of the pool table. In these two matches, the team showed a distinct hunger to win as they played to strategy, exhibiting aggressive yet structured and disciplined hockey.
“We made some key changes in how we defend and attack during our preparations for this tournament. I think one of the main elements is that our strikers are willing to take that extra risk in the circle knowing well enough that the defenders will support them if by chance they lose the ball. I think this change in attitude made them play freely in the first two matches and defending well was our priority,” expressed Chief Coach Harendra Singh in retrospect.
In the first match against Pakistan, India made 22 circle entries, took six shots on goal out of which four were converted and held 49.3 percent ball possession while against Argentina, India made 18 circle entries took six shots and goal converting two and were on par with the Olympic Champions in terms of ball possession. On being asked if Harendra was satisfied with the team’s stats in the tournament thus far, pat came the reply: “No. I need them to make more circle penetrations and take more shots on goal,” he said further adding that the team can do much better.
“The team has so much more potential and it’s time they stop hanging on to the No.6 spot in the world and surge to the top three. We have always spoken about doing well against the top 5 world ranked teams. I think this is the best chance to show that we can,” Harendra stated without mincing his words. “Australia are among the fittest teams in the world, they play with a lot of speed like us and are consistent but we need to carry on the momentum we have started with,” he added.
The defending Champions are placed second behind India in the Pool table after having drawn 3-3 against Belgium and won 2-1 against Pakistan. The match against Australia will be followed by a clash against World No. 3 Belgium on Thursday. India needs to come up with something special yet again if they want to see themselves in the Final. Harendra’s words to his team ahead of the crucial matches is simple: “Continue to show that hunger to win if you want to see yourself in the Final.”
On 27 June 2018, India will face Australia at 18.30 hours IST.
Matches will be shown live on Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD 1, DD Sports & Hotstar.