Team is showing good consistency in lead-up to Olympic Qualifiers, says Chief Coach Graham Reid
Bhubaneswar: The Indian Men’s Hockey Team have been in fine form lately, winning the FIH Men’s Series Finals Bhubaneswar 2019 in June, the Tokyo Olympics 2020 Test Event in August, and then winning all five of their matches against World Champions Belgium and World No. 8 Spain as part of their preparations for the much anticipated FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Odisha, and Chief Coach Graham Reid believes that it is important for the team to keep working in the right direction.
Speaking ahead of the announcement of his team for the Qualifiers, Reid said that he is satisfied with the performances his team put in against Belgium and Spain during their preparatory tour, but wants his players to maintain the momentum when they take on World No. 22 Russia on 1st and 2nd November 2019 here at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium.
“We have been in the process of debriefing our Belgium Tour to go back and work out what we did well, what were the things we needed to improve on, and then come up with the objectives that we are going forward with in the coming two weeks. We have almost finished that process and its been a really good exercise for the team, and it is also good for the players that they understand what are the things that they do when they are playing well. There were things like good pressure on the ball, good structure and those things were quite evident when we went back to see how we played in Belgium. We’ve had a good week here in Bhubaneswar to determine what were the outcomes from that preparatory tour, and now is the time to continue working in that direction,” said Reid.
World No. 5 India maintained their 100% record on the Belgium Tour and Reid believes that it is down to the consistent level of intensity shown by his team. He said, “For me, the good takeaways were that our GPS numbers were great, which means that the running, effort, speed and intensity was actually even higher than last year’s World Cup. So they were very good numbers for us to see, and for the players to understand that to play at that level, you need to be achieving those consistently. Another part was the consistency of our performances against Belgium and Spain, and it was good to see that we kept building momentum as the tour progressed.”
Reid, who took over as the Chief Coach of the Indian Men’s Hockey Team in April 2019, also spoke about the return of some players from injury during their Belgium Tour. “The players who have been long-term injured, returned to the team in Belgium, and I feel it was good for them to get back into the groove of playing consistently at that level. It was a really good experience for them to be able to play again, and it also gave me an opportunity to see them closely, and now select the best 18-member team for the upcoming FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Odisha,” expressed the Chief Coach.
Looking forward to the challenge of playing Russia at home, Reid said that his team will be focused on doing the right things and producing a good performance. He said, “There is always the concern about playing a team like Russia and it is, that they hold the ball very well, they like to be in possession. Trying to get the ball off them is always difficult, so that is something we need to keep an eye on, and make sure that our tackling, interception, and pressing skills are at the highest level. We want to make sure that we are playing at our best, and there will be no complacency. It does not matter who we play, we will approach the game in the same manner, that is, in a professional and respectful way.” The Indian Men’s Hockey team will be vying for an Olympic berth when they take on Russia in the crucial FIH Olympic Qualifiers to be held on November 1 and 2 at the iconic Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. For the very first time, the Indian Women’s Hockey team too will be playing in front of the hockey-loving people of Odisha when they take on USA in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers at the Kalinga Stadium on November 1 and 2. The excitement among the teams is palpable and they are working towards peaking at this important event. Having represented India at the Rio Olympics after 36 years, the women’s team will be aiming to take part in their second consecutive Olympics in the history of Indian hockey and they are confident of making history. Make sure you witness history unfold at the Kalinga Stadium by booking your tickets.