Indian men's hockey team needs to work more on defense ahead of Tokyo 2021: Head coach Graham Reid

India men's hockey head coach Graham Reid. (Source: Hockey India)
India men's hockey head coach Graham Reid. (Source: Hockey India)

Indian men’s hockey head coach Graham Reid has expressed concerns about the defense and stated they need to tighten their backline in the build-up to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The PR Sreejesh & Co. had a successful European tour as they remained unbeaten with two wins and two draws.

“We will go over the data from this tour once we return to SAI, Bengaluru but the first thing that requires attention is: making sure we tighten our defence,” Reid said after their final match.
“We allow them (opponents) to come back in the middle (of the game) a bit too much. The last match was a little bit better. We are starting to make some ground on that.”

The Indians started the tour with a 6-1 thrashing of Germany before drawing 1-1 against the same opponent. It was followed up with a 1-1 draw and 3-2 win against Great Britain in Antwerp. The two-week tour was India’s first post COVID-19 pandemic.

The chief coach also pointed out that they need to work more on their finishing.

“We are getting into the 25-mark a lot, we found that during our FIH Pro League matches too but we need to get better returns from our 25 entries," he said.
“Covert them into circle entries, goal shots, and PCs, we have tried some different things here in Europe. Some things worked, some didn't. Overall, I am quite happy,” stated the Australian.

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Graham Reid analyzes India’s performance in European tour

The former Australian defender pointed out several takeways from the European tour.

“Our performances against Germany were mixed. It was pretty good beating them 6-1, we took them by surprise and made good use of the opportunities, but we let too many PCs in,” he said.
“The second game saw better defensive efforts from us. The third against GB was ok. It was a bit colder in Antwerp, different pitch and perhaps we didn’t play as well as we should have.
“But the last game (where India beat GB 3-2) was first-class! We led most of the game, came back twice from a stalemate, scored in the last few minutes which is a really important thing to get over,” Reid explained.

What’s next for Indian men’s hockey team?

According to sources in Hockey India, the players are expected to touch down in the country on Wednesday (March 10) and regroup in SAI Bengaluru this week to do further planning. After a few weeks of training, the Indian team will be flying out to Argentina for the FIH Pro League matches on April 10 and 11.

The month of May will be crucial for Reid’s boys as they will be up against four top teams in the FIH Pro League, playing eight matches in all. India play Great Britain (May 8, 9), Spain (May 12, 13), Germany (May 18, 19) and New Zealand (May 29, 30). The venues for the matches are yet to be decided.

“We go back to Bengaluru from here and will be training there for a few weeks before we set out on another tour of our FIH Pro League matches in Argentina,” he said.
“I believe the next few months leading up to Tokyo is going to be busy for us with competition and some training in between where we will work on the things we need to. The Olympic year has well and truly started now for us and we need to accelerate our learnings,” Reid concluded.

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Edited by Sankalp Srivastava
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