India men’s hockey forward Mandeep Singh has stated that their performance against Olympic champions Argentina in the FIH Pro League has been a huge confidence-booster ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. India qualified for the Tokyo Olympics during the 2019 FIH Olympic Qualifiers.
The Men in Blue won their first FIH Pro League encounter against Argentina via a penalty shootout (3-2), before thrashing the same opposition 3-0 in the second game. India also won two of their four practice matches, losing one and drawing the other. The practice matches were also a part of the preparation for the Tokyo Olympics .
Prior to the Argentina assignment, India had a brilliant tour of Europe, remaining unbeaten against the likes of Great Britain and Germany. It also included a 6-0 thrashing of Germany. Mandeep added that India have attained great rhythm in the last two tours.
“Putting up a great performance against the Olympic Gold medallists is certainly a huge confidence booster for us. We played very well against Germany and Great Britain as well and it was great to back that up with a brilliant tour of Argentina,” Mandeep said.
“We have attained great rhythm in our last two tours, and we are currently working on a few aspects that we could have done better in our recent matches," said Mandeep," who scored a goal in India’s second FIH Pro League match against Argentina.
Coordination among players intact despite long gap
The 26-year-old Mandeep also reiterated that the co-ordination on the field among the players during both tours following a huge period of inactivity due to COVID-19, was a massive plus point for the team .
“When a team plays matches after a long break, a team could lose its coordination. However, it was great to see how we all found our coordination quickly and gelled very well as a team when we played each of our matches this year. The team is shaping up really well at the moment,” added Mandeep.
Mandeep further said that their main focus at the moment is the Tokyo Olympics and the players are on track to create history in the quadrennial event. India have been clubbed in Group A along with defending champions Argentina, hosts Japan, Australia, Spain and New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics.
“Our sole focus is the Tokyo Olympics and I think we are totally on track to put up a great performance in the quadrennial event later this year. We are very fortunate to be training for the Olympics in a safe and secure environment at the SAI campus in Bengaluru during a very difficult time for our country,” Mandeep signed off.