~ Retaining No.1 status in Asia is top priority, says skipper Manpreet Singh ~
With their eyes set on the prestigious Hero Asia Cup 2017, the Indian Men’s Hockey team led by midfielder Manpreet Singh left for Dhaka, Bangladesh from the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru in the early hours of Sunday, October 8.
India will go into the tournament slated to begin on October 11 as top-ranked team and will take on Japan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan in their Pool A match to qualify for the Super 4s stage. After a 6-week national camp under the guidance of Hockey India’s High-Performance Director David John and newly-appointed Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne, the 18-member squad is well-prepared to vie for top honors.
Ahead of team’s departure, 25-year-old Manpreet said, “We are aware that we go into this tournament as the highest ranked team and we aim to keep up the No.1 status. However, every team will come with the intention to win the title so we can’t take any team lightly thinking they are ranked lower than us.”
The Indian Men’s team also clocked in some good practice matches against the Indian Army squad over the last week to ensure well-rounded preparation. “We have trained well in the lead up to the tournament. Our new Chief Coach Sjoerd is happy with our structure and style of play, so he has not tried to change too many aspects. We believe while we play teams like Japan, Bangladesh or even Pakistan, we just need to stick to our basics and play simple hockey.”
After beating their nemesis twice during the Hero Hockey World League Semi Final in June this year, India will meet Pakistan in their third Pool A match on October 15 in a much-anticipated encounter. Speaking about playing rivals Pakistan, Manpreet said, “Yes there will always be anticipation and excitement for the lovers of the sport to watch an India Vs Pakistan match. But for us, the aim is simple – beat every team in our pool and make it to the next stage.”
On October 11, India will take on Japan in their first Pool A match at 14.30 hours IST.
Matches will be shown Live on Star Sports 2 and Star Sports HD 2.
Please find attached photos of the team and schedule of Hero Asia Cup 2017.
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