Preview: Focus is on producing our best performance, says Indian Men's Hockey Team Chief Coach Harendra Singh
Muscat (Oman), 17 October 2018: The Indian Men's Hockey Team will look to open their 5th Men's Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 campaign with a convincing performance as they face hosts Oman in their opening match on Thursday, 18 October 2018, here at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex. World No. 5 India go into the tournament as the highest ranked Asian nation and will be looking to bounce back from their subdued Bronze Medal finish at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
India beat Oman 7-0 when the two teams met the last time during the 17th Asian Games 2014, but Chief Coach Harendra Singh believes that facing the hosts will be a good test for the Indian team ahead of other crucial round-robin pool matches, "We are very excited to start our 5th Men's Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 campaign against the hosts Oman, who will be playing in front of their home crowd. The opening match will be a good test for us ahead of some crucial pool matches against the likes of Malaysia, Pakistan, Japan and South Korea. It is important for us to the start the competition by doing the basics right and producing our best performance in order to build momentum for the upcoming fixtures."
India go into the tournament as the defending Champions, having won the 2016 edition by defeating Pakistan 3-2 in the Final in Kuantan, Malaysia. But Harendra Singh believes that the team needs to minimize errors if they are to lift the coveted trophy again, "We know that we have a good team which is capable of defeating any country in the world, but sometimes things do not go your way. Therefore, it is important for the unit to keep their focus throughout the sixty minutes and not give the opponents any chances. We have to make sure that we have improved from the mistakes that we committed at the 18th Asian Games, and this tournament gives us the perfect opportunity to regain confidence ahead of the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018. Our immediate aim is to qualify for the Semi-Finals of the competition and the team will work hard to achieve that."
After playing Oman in the first match, India will face arch-rivals Pakistan on October 20, Japan on October 21, Malaysia on October 23 and South Korea on October 24. The last edition of the tournament saw India remain undefeated as they beat Japan 10-2, drew 1-1 with South Korea, beat Pakistan 3-2, beat China 9-0 and Malaysia 2-1 in the Pool stages while winning their Semi-Final match against South Korea 5-4 in Penalty Shootout.
India and Pakistan have both won two titles each and will be looking to win a record third time when the tournament starts on October 18th with World No. 12 Malaysia taking on Asian Games 2018 Gold Medalists Japan in the first match, followed by India facing hosts Oman. India had won the inaugural edition in 2011, whereas Pakistan won the 2012 and 2013 editions by defeating India and Japan respectively before India won the 2016 edition by beating Pakistan in the Final.
The Indian Men's Hockey Team will face Oman in their opening match tomorrow, 18 October 2018 at 22.40hrs IST.
Matches will be shown live on Star Sports 2, Star Sports HD 2 & Hotstar.
Here's a link to the schedule of the tournament