Success in Argentina a confidence booster, but ultimate goal remains Olympic podium, says Manpreet Singh
Eight-time champions India are looking to end an over four-decade-long Olympic medal drought in Tokyo this year
Buenos Aires: The Indian men's hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh considers the recent success against reigning Olympic champions Argentina a big confidence-booster, but insists that the team still needs to address some grey areas as it pursues a podium finish in Tokyo.
Eight-time champions India are looking to end an over four-decade-long Olympic medal drought in Tokyo this year. India had won the last of their eight Olympic gold medals in the 1980 Moscow Games before the team endured a sharp slide in its fortunes.
"No doubt winning against a really strong team like Argentina in their home ground is a big confidence booster, but we shouldn't read too much into the results.
"We need to keep our heads down and remain focused on the areas that require improvement on the basis of our performance here. Our task is not over until we stand on the podium in Tokyo," Manpreet said in a statement issued by Hockey India.
In the Argentina tour that concluded on Wednesday, India defeated the hosts in a two-leg FIH Pro League away tie, besides registering two wins, one draw and a loss in the four practice matches.
"After the matches, we feel there are a few areas we need to improve upon. While we did well as a team to come back into the game even in the dying minutes of the match, we feel we could have started better," Manpreet said.
"Also playing consistently, keeping up the pressure on the opponents in all quarters is another area we need to work on."
India are scheduled to play Great Britain in the FIH Pro League on May 8 and 9 in London followed by a double header against Spain in Valencia on 15 and 16 May.
After that, the Indians will play Germany in Hamburg on 22 and 23 May.
"It was great to resume the FIH Hockey Pro League with 5 points from Argentina and we would like to keep this momentum going into the matches in Europe. These matches will surely be a litmus test for us before Tokyo," Manpreet said.
The four sailors created history last month when they became the first from the sport to qualify for the Olympics from the country.
Tokyo Olympics are already slated to go ahead without foreign fans with the decision on domestic fans yet to be taken.
The Indian women's hockey core group had returned to the national camp in Bengaluru on Sunday last to restart the preparations for the Tokyo Olympics after a 10-day break.