India hockey team have the calibre to finish on top in FIH Champions Trophy, says captain PR Sreejesh

Bengaluru: An upbeat India captain PR Sreejesh feels the men's hockey team has the calibre to finish on top in the last edition of the prestigious FIH Champions Trophy to be held in Breda, Netherlands from 23 June to 1 July.

Back to full fitness after recovering from medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury, said the Champions Trophy provides India the best chance to judge its potential ahead of the season-ending World Cup.

"We have a good team balance with experience and youth. Our preparations have been earnest and the team certainly has the calibre to finish on top provided we play our A-game and not make silly mistakes and lose out on scoring opportunities," Sreejesh said.

File image of PR Sreejesh. Reuters

File image of PR Sreejesh. Reuters

"This is the best chance to see where we stand against top teams in the world before the men's World Cup in Bhubaneswar in November-December and we need to make this opportunity count," he added.

The Indian team's inefficiency in converting field goals despite improved circle penetrations cost it a medal in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and chief coach Harendra Singh has taken note of it and is working hard on rectifying the error.

"We have paid a lot of attention to the positioning of forwards in the striking circle. The chief coach has not just drawn out the position chart for the strikers and explained in theory, but has also walked them through the positioning to ensure they don't repeat the mistakes made at 2018 CWG because of which we missed out on scoring critical goals," Sreejesh said.

After the 18-member national squad was announced last week, the Indian team under Harendra has upped the ante, knowing well that world's top teams, including Olympic champions Argentina, reigning world champion Australia, world No 3 Belgium, hosts Netherlands will be fighting for top honours at the Champions Trophy.

At the national camp in Bengaluru, the focus has remained on maintaining the right structure with emphasis on team's on-field communication, following basics to keep ball possession, front-line defence, counter control and penalty corner defending.

"The team has moved on from the poor performance at the Gold Coast CWG. At this camp, one of the main focus is on team's on-field communication and re-instilling the team's belief that we have it in us to go for gold," vice-captain Chinglensana Singh Kangujam said.

"Our psychology sessions have been critical in making us believe in the team goal and the chief coach has prepared a 20-point agenda which we read every day ahead of training sessions to remind ourselves of our aim ahead of the tournament," Chinglensana added.

India will begin their campaign in the Champions Trophy against arch-rivals Pakistan on 23 June.

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Updated Date: Jun 08, 2018 17:18:20 IST

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