Indian men's hockey team goalkeeper PR Sreejesh feels playing against quality sides will help team prepare for Tokyo Olympics
After a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian men's team, ranked No 4 in the world, will play against World No 6 Germany in the first of their four-match tour of Europe starting on Sunday.
Krefeld: Indian men's hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh feels playing against quality sides like Germany and Great Britain will help the team prepare a plan for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics by testing itself tactically, physically and mentally.
After a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian men's team, ranked No 4 in the world, will play against World No 6 Germany in the first of their 4-match tour of Europe starting on Sunday.
After facing the Germans once again on Tuesday, the Indian team will travel to Antwerp, Belgium, where they are scheduled to play against Great Britain on 6 and 8 March.
"These matches against Germany and Great Britain are super important for our preparations. It is an opportunity to test ourselves tactically, physically and mentally," Sreejesh said.
"We are very lucky to be able to play against quality teams, despite the ongoing pandemic. This outing will help us set the parameter and enable us to plan our months leading up to the Olympics," he added.
India last played in the FIH Hockey Pro League held in January and February last year where the team took on the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia on home ground in Bhubaneswar.
"Not playing competitive matches in over a year has been very difficult, mostly mentally than physically. Though we played a lot of matches internally over the past few months in SAI, the next few weeks in Europe will show exactly where we are at in terms of performance," Sreejesh said.
On the match against Germany, Sreejesh said, "We have watched this team closely, analysed their game and replicated how we must play against them during the past few weeks in camp."
"They play man-to-man and our style of play will be slightly tweaked in order to succeed against them. The whole idea is to implement what we have been doing in camp these past few months and the focus will be on ourselves."
Toshiro Nikai, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's number two, said the Olympics must be cancelled "without hesitation" if the virus situation is too severe.
Even as Tokyo unveiled installations featuring the Olympic rings and mascots to celebrate the 100-day milestone, organisers face monumental challenges as virus surges.
Schooling, the Southeast Asian city-state's first Olympic champion, said the year's pandemic delay had given him extra time to prepare after a disappointing World Championships in 2019.