Australian Graham Reid was appointed as Indian hockey coach on April 8 with just over a year-and-a-half left for the Tokyo Olympics, leaving the coach or his team hardly any time to understand each other but Reid believes that making the most of whatever time they have got left for Tokyo 2020 is the best the team can do. Reid believes that the time he has got with the team is enough and that whenever they get to play a match, they should be entering the field with the intention of making themselves better. He said that the team will be approaching the FIH Men’s Series Final on June 6 in Bhubaneshwar with the same mindset.
“To be honest it doesn’t matter whether we have time or not because we need to work anyhow. We do have time and we are working,” Reid told IANS. “The Australia series really showed us where we stand and what aspects we need to improve on. If we keep improving every time we play it will be good for us. So our intention is to perform to the best of our abilities in every tournament that we play in and hope that we qualify for the Olympics that way. If we make the most of whatever time we have got, we can bring about a lot of improvements,” he said. In the test series against Australia, India recorded two losses to the senior team, a win and a draw against the A team and lost to Western Australia Thundersticks in a lone match.
“The important thing is that we got to know which areas we need to focus on from this tour,” said the former Australian player. “We are creating a lot of chances but our goalscoring needs to improve. So we’ve been spending a lot of time on strong receiving in the circle, one on one tackling, where we enter the circle and how we enter the circle and from a defensive point of view we are doing a lot of work on the press and how we put pressure off the ball. That’s important too,” he said.
India have found it difficult to score goals off penalty corners. However, Reid is of the opinion that this is a problem being encountered by many other sides and can be attributed to better PC defence. “I have been asked that question at all the different teams I have been around the world, to be honest,” said Reid. “I think what’s been happening in world hockey is that corner defending is getting much stronger and people are running much tighter lines while doing it. So it has got increasingly difficult to score from corners. Perhaps 10 years ago or five years ago, a conversion rate of 33 percent was fairly normal.
“Apart from one or two teams, like Argentina perhaps, or Belgium, everyone has found it difficult. We are trying to work out a way around this in the next 12 months, it’s a challenge that I want to overcome. But I think every team will be asking themselves that and unfortunately there will be no silver bullet that will come out of nowhere and solve it for us.” India will face Russia in the first match of the FIH Series Finals. Reid is taking the tournament quite seriously but he is not looking too far ahead and focusing on each match as it comes.
“Any team can beat any team on their day. We will be treating each game like a final and we will be preparing in this manner. Every team is coming into the tournament well prepared and so we cannot take it lightly by any means,” he said.