Bengaluru, July 17 (IANS) Indian men’s hockey team chief coach Harendra Singh on Tuesday said they must approach the Asian Games in August with a must-win attitude if they wish to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
India, the defending champions, have been clubbed in Pool A alongside South Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong. Pool B consists of Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman, Thailand and Indonesia.
The winning team at the Asiad gets the direct qualification to the Olympic Games. At the Incheon Asian Games in 2014, India, then under Terry Walsh, won the gold medal to qualify for 2016 Rio Games.
“I expect the team to be hungry to win the Gold again and get direct qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games and I want to make it clear that there will be no room for complacency,” Harendra said in a statement.
India will begin their campaign at the Jakarta-Palembang Asiad against Hong Kong on August 22 before facing Japan (August 24), South Korea (August 26) and Sri Lanka (August 28).
Harendra said minnows like Sri Lanka, Japan and Hong Kong can spring surprises.
“Though we are the defending champions, we cannot take any team lightly. I don’t call this an easy group. We must be highly cautious against each of these teams as we have not played against teams like Hong Kong and Sri Lanka,” the former international said.
“Japan is a rising team in Asia and are capable of surprising any team. They have done well in recent events while South Korea too are a good team, play very defensive hockey and we have watched their game closely during the ongoing practice matches in SAI, Bengaluru.”
Meanwhile, the Indian women’s team will be vying for a gold too in order to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games and had previous settled for the bronze in the 2014 Asian Games.
The women’s team is in Pool B alongside title holders South Korea, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Indonesia. Pool A features China, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei at the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Sports Complex, Jakarta.
“As we arrived in London on Sunday for the World Cup in London, our focus is on the current tournament. However, in the Asian Games Pool, South Korea will be our toughest challenge and I am happy we have played quite a few matches against them this year and are aware of how they play,” chief coach Sjoerd Marijne stated.
“The only thing I would say to the team is that it does not matter who we play, if we want to win, we must win against everyone whether they are ranked lower than us or higher,” the Ducth tactician added.