Indian men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh has stated the importance of being tested against the likes of heavyweights Argentina ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. The Men in Blue are currently in Buenos Aires for their FIH Pro League matches against 2016 Olympic Champions Argentina on April 11 and 12.
India have started their campaign on a positive note, scoring eight goals over two practice matches. While they won a thriller edging Argentina 4-3, the second game resulted in a draw with both teams scoring four goals each. Apart from Manpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh and Varun Kumar are also making their national comeback on this tour.
Skipper Manpreet Singh is happy with how things have begun for India on tour and reiterated the practice matches were quite intense and hard-fought games. He also felt that the team could also improve both in attack and defense.
“Having missed match practice for much of last year, we have to cash in on the opportunities we get. It is good for us that we are tested against a tough opponent like Olympic Champions Argentina,” Manpreet Singh said in a press statement.
“In both games, we showed a lot of fight and created loads of chances. But we could have scored even more whilst conceding fewer goals. We are working hard to be more compact at the back and being more ruthless going forward,” the 28-year-old Manpreet Singh added.
More circle entries were on focus during training: Manpreet Singh
The likes of Mandeep Singh, Nilakanta Sharma and Dilpreet Singh were impressive, creating a lot of goalmouth opportunities. However, India’s fragile defense at the back is still a puzzle to be solved by head coach Graham Reid and his team.
“We worked hard in our training camps and tried our best to recreate the intensity of a high-stakes international match. That is why the upcoming matches are so important to us. One of the areas we really focussed on during our national camp was to make more circle entries and finish chances. Converting Penalty Corner opportunities is another aspect we wanted to get better at,” said Manpreet Singh.
Meanwhile, a lot will be at stake for Argentina. They suffered two huge defeats at the hands of Germany last week and will come hard against India. Both Argentina and India are tied at 10 points each with the latter in fifth position as they have played fewer matches.
However, Manpreet Singh isn’t too bothered about Argentina’s recent slump in form. He wants the players to focus on the game and not on the opponent. After two Pro League matches, India will again play two practice games against Argentina on April 13 and 14.
“Argentina are a quality side and we have had some good matches against them over the years. We need to focus on our game. Like I said, each match we play is a learning experience and look forward to a good take on the home team in the double header," Manpreet Singh signed off.