Coach Harendra Singh sees optimism in India hockey juniors' Volvo campaign
Promise was something the Indian junior men’s hockey team exuded in abundance at the recent Volvo International Tournament in Breda, Netherlands. The Harendra Singh-coached Indian boys, who kicked off their campaign in emphatic fashion with identical 3-0 wins over Germany and New Zealand in their first two games, went off the boil somewhat losing 1-2 to the Netherlands and 1-3 to Belgium besides playing out a 1-1 draw against England before losing to them 0-3 in the play-off round to finish fourth in the tournament.
The Indian boys, who are preparing for the 2016 Junior Men’s World Cup to be held in December in India, must be disappointed with their showing given the robust start they made in the tournament. A win in their last three games would have been enough for India to seal a final berth.
“In a nutshell, we did not quite making our chances count; we missed too many scoring chances. We let in soft goals in the games against Belgium and Netherlands, which cost us dearly,” says Indian junior men’s hockey team coach Harendra Singh.
Harendra, the former senior team head coach, believes the Volvo Tournament will be a big learning curve for his team.
“The boys must have gained a lot from this exposure. I would like my boys to work on ‘counter control’ – it’s okay to go on a counter-attack, but when you counter-attack you should keep in mind how would you fall back if we lose the ball in such counters or else the opponents are going on to pounce on us – this is one area we have to work on,” he quipped.
The 2016 Junior Men’s World Cup is the next big thing for the Indian boys. We all saw how the Indian juniors settled for a hugely disappointing 10th spot in the 2013 edition in their own backyard despite all the hype in the run up to the marquee event of being strong title contenders – an event where France sprung up from nowhere to reach the final losing to Germany to settle for a creditable runners-up finish.
Harendra is aware of the expectations since the tourney will again be held in India. “I have a talented bunch at my disposal. Mark my words, these boys are capable of giving us the gold medal in the 2016 Junior Men’s World Cup,” he signed off.