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India hope to end home leg on a high against depleted German side at FIH Men's Pro League

Harmanpreet Singh is currently the leading goal-scorer in the FIH Pro League (Image courtesy: Hockey India)
Harmanpreet Singh is currently the leading goal-scorer in the FIH Pro League (Image courtesy: Hockey India)
Subhashish Majumdar

The Indian men's hockey team will take on Germany in their final home matches on April 14 and 15 at the ongoing FIH Pro League.

The Germans, who were originally scheduled to play India in March, were unable to travel after several players tested positive for COVID-19.

We play Germany next in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2021/2022!๐Ÿ—“๏ธ 14th and 15th April ๐Ÿ“ Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar#IndiaKaGame #HockeyIndia #FIHProLeague #hockeyatitsbest @CMO_Odisha @sports_odisha @IndiaSports @Media_SAI https://t.co/lC76Dp0CqK

Ahead of the matches, German coach Andre Henning was realistic about his team's chances against India despite the fact that several top players are not in Bhubaneswar owing to club commitments.

"We have a very young team here," he said. "Some of the players will not be able to play for us this week as they have matches with their club teams.
"We have come with a very young team," he added. "We have about 12 players who are playing their first matches here for Germany and will be celebrating their debut."

The Indians, on their part, are not willing to lower their guard or experiment with the composition of the side, as vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh told Sportskeeda.

"We know the Germans have brought a young team with them but that doesn't mean that they are not a good side," he cautioned. "We too have brought several young players to the fore in the past who have done well and the young Germans will be keen to prove their mettle."

The Indians last played Germany in the bronze-medal match at the Tokyo Olympics, where Graham Reid's side created history by winning an Olympic medal after a gap of 41 years.

The Indians are ecstatic after beating Germany to win bronze in Tokyo (Image courtesy: Hockey India)
The Indians are ecstatic after beating Germany to win bronze in Tokyo (Image courtesy: Hockey India)

Back then, Manpreet Singh and Co. staved off a flurry of relentless German attacks in the dying minutes of the match to come away with a well-earned 5-4 win.

German captain Martin Zwicker, who was part of the side that lost to India in Tokyo, was all praise for the manner in which the hosts have developed over the last year or so.

"The Indians have made a lot of progress with regard to the manner in which they have developed as a team," he said. "They won the bronze medal in Tokyo last year. It was disappointing for us but it's normal for such a big hockey country like India to develop the game and get closer to Belgium and Australia."

As far as the Pro League is concerned, the Indians are currently table toppers with 21 points from 10 games, although they have played more matches than any other side in the competition.

The Germans are second with 17 points from eight matches, while the Netherlands have 16 points from six games.

Interestingly, World Cup and Olympic champions Belgium are placed fifth, having lost two of their six matches. They will look to build on their tally of 10 points when they host Spain in Antwerp next month.

"There are a whole lot of people who contribute towards the PC goals" - Harmanpreet Singh

Fourteen goals scored by Harmanpreet Singh, who is currently the leading scorer in the Pro League, have contributed in a big way to his side's campaign in the tournament.

The Indian vice-captain refused to accept all the credit for the improved PC conversion rate, choosing instead to explain the entire process behind the short corner routines to Sportskeeda.

"There are a whole lot of people who contribute towards the PC goals - not just the drag-flicker," he said. "The ones who push and trap the ball and the players who earn the short corners for the team are equally important.
"The role of the pusher and the trapper cannot be overemphasized in this regard," he continued. "The coaching staff guide us with regard to the weak areas and strengths of the PC defense of the opposition based on which we devise what kind of drag-flicks to choose. Beating the first-rusher is also critical in modern hockey with improved PC defenses around the world."

Barring surprises, the Indians will be expected to earn full points against a depleted German side before they begin the away leg of the competition in June.


Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee

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