India men hockey team will continue their FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 campaign when they take on defending champions and world No. 2 Australia in two-legged tie starting Friday in Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Hockey Stadium. Also Read - India Hockey Legend And World Cup Winner Michael Kindo Passes Away at 73
India have made an impressive start to their maiden appearance at the even having beaten Netherlands in both their fixtures in January before winning one and losing one against world champions Belgium. With three victories from four matches, India have gained eight points and are currently placed third in the Pro League standings. Also Read - Indian Men's Hockey Team Finish Decade With Highest-Ever Ranking
Speaking ahead of the match, Indian Men’s Hockey team’s Chief Coach Graham Reid said, “I think we have played some very consistent level of hockey in our first four matches against The Netherlands and Belgium. We faced two of the top-3 teams in the world, and showed that we can compete at the highest level constantly. We are feeling really confident ahead of the matches against the No. 2 team in the world, and of course they are also the defending champions of the FIH Hockey Pro League.” Also Read - India Hockey Coach Graham Reid Hopes to Resume International Action From Early Next Year
The Indian team has been working on their corners with their focus on maintaining same tempo throughout a game.
“I think the mood in the camp is very good,” India head coach Grahamd Reid said on Thursday. “All our players are very confident after the performances they have put in against Netherlands and Belgium, and are actually looking forward to the matches. Apart from that, in the build-up to these matches, we’ve been working on our corners, and our key focus has been on making sure that we play with the same tempo throughout the two matches.”
He added, “I think the challenge for everyone is that we have to keep going again and again every other weekend. So, it is the mental aspect that we need to focus on, and make sure that we are ready to front up to different challenges, because that will help us in preparing better for the Olympics as well.”
Australia are fifth in the table with six points from their four matches, having won one match in normal time, one in shootout, one loss in normal time and another loss in shootout.
Colin Batch, the Australia head coach, praised India for their performance so far in the league and looking forward to some good games. “I think they have performed very well so far against two good teams. They missed the tournament last year, but they have managed to perform consistently in the four matches, and they have got some belief now in what they’re doing. Their confidence is growing and growing, but having said that, we are very confident in our own preparations, and are looking forward to two good games,” Batch said.
Batch, who was chosen as the FIH Men’s Coach of the Year, says his aim is to try different line-ups during the competition something which will help in arriving at the best combination for the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
“We’re enjoying playing the best teams in the world in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics. We want to try out different line-ups in the build-up to the Olympics, to make sure that we have decided on our best line-up for Tokyo. I think almost all the teams taking part in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 have been following the same tactic, so it is certainly a great thing,” he said.
Since 2013, India and Australia have locked horns on 30 occasions. Australia have had better of the exchanged, winning 22 while India have managed just six victories with two matches ending in draws.