What's the story?
Indian hockey mid-fielder Chinglensana Singh Kangujam exuded confidence ahead of India's clash against Australia in the FIH Pro League 2020. He believes that India can easily beat Australia if the team is able to execute their plans perfectly.
In case you didn't know
The Men's FIH Pro League is an international men's field hockey competition organised by the International Hockey Federation (FIH). It has replaced the erstwhile Men's FIH Hockey World League.
The first edition of the league was staged in 2019 with the second edition being held this year. The 2020 tournament started in January and is set to finish in June 2020. India had opted out of the league in the first edition but has joined the league this year.
India hosted a strong Dutch side at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar in their first encounter in the FIH Pro League 2020. They managed to win both the matches, the first one 5-2 and the second one 3-1 on penalties after a 3-3 draw in the regulation period.
They then faced the World Champions Belgium, again at home. India managed to win the first match 2-1 but lost the second match 2-3 in two closely fought encounters.
India are currently placed 3rd in the FIH Pro League points table with 8 points behind Belgium (14 points) and Netherlands (11 points) having played 2 matches less than the two sides.
The heart of the matter
The Indian hockey team will be squaring up against a strong Australian side in their 3rd encounter of the FIH Pro League 2020. The matches are a double header and will be played at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar on February 21 and 22.
Indian hockey mid-fielder Chinglensana Singh sounded optimistic before the encounter and opined that the Indian team can easily beat Australia if they play to their fullest potential. He mentioned that the team was satisfied with their last 2 performances as they were able to execute their strategies on the field.
“I think our performances against Netherlands and Belgium have been quite satisfying for everyone. We have played according to the strategies that our chief coach (Graham Reid) and the support staff have made, and I think the execution on the field was there for everyone to see."
He expressed confidence that the Indian would be able to defeat the aggressive Australian team in both the matches if they are able to execute their plans on the field of play.
“Now we are completely focused on Australia, who are a good side. They like to play a very aggressive brand of hockey, but we are very well prepared to tackle that, and we all believe that if we play according to our plans, we will definitely end up winning both the matches.”
The 28-year old Manipur mid-fielder was laid low by a prolonged right ankle injury due to which he was out of action for most of 2019 and made his comeback to the Indian team in the Pro League this year. The return of the experienced Chinglensana has certainly helped the team, who received a lot of support while recovering.
“The initial few weeks were obviously very tough for me because there were thoughts in my head which said I may not be able to play for India again. But the support that I received from my family, teammates and coaches was exceptional.”
“I was in rehab, and would watch my teammates play on the pitch, and I would feel very sad because playing hockey is something that I have loved all my life. However, slowly I recovered from the injury, and my initial target was to return for the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in November 2019 to help my team, but there were a few setbacks along the way,” he added.
With more than 200 international caps to his name, the 2019 Arjuna Awardee said that he enjoys the responsibility of grooming younger players and wants to help the team in bagging a podium finish at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He said,
“Having made a comeback to the team now at the FIH Hockey Pro League 2020, I am really delighted because I can help the team from within, and can also guide the younger players.
We have some fantastic young talent who are ready to take on the world, and with Vivek (Sagar Prasad) winning the FIH Rising Star of the Year Award, and the likes of Raj Kumar Pal and Hardik Singh also trying to make a case for themselves, it gives me immense satisfaction to be able to help them with little tips and knowledge about the game."
The Indian team would want to continue with the good start they have got in the 2020 Pro League and will hope to keep the winning momentum against Australia. Post the encounters against Australia, the Indian team would be playing away matches in the Pro League starting with the encounter against Germany in Berlin on 25th and 26th April.
All these encounters will hold the Indian team in good stead at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where they are likely to face these teams and the experienced gained here would definitely help them.