New Delhi, Jan 27 (IANS) The Indian men’s hockey team has kicked-off their Pro-League campaign on a bright note as they emerged victorious in both of their two games against world no. 3 ranked Netherlands. The best thing in each game was that the defence, especially the Penalty Corner (PC) defence, was impressive and a confident skipper Manpreet Singh feels that they need to maintain the same spirit in the coming games.
In the first match, Netherlands got a total of nine PCs however, they were able to convert just one. In the second one, Netherlands gained three PCs but again ended up converting only one.
In their next matches in the Pro-League, India will face Belgium and Australia. Both these sides have a quality attack besides some great drag-flickers which means the Men in Blue are going to face a tough challenge.
Talking to IANS, India skipper Manpreet Singh said that the PC defence has become stronger but it is crucial that the team continue the good run in the upcoming games.
“Yes, if the PC defence performs well, it certainly helps the team. Netherlands had some good drag-flickers still we won. We just now need to continue with it as Belgium too, has many great drag-flickers and we need to be cautious about it beside working on it,” said Manpreet.
India won the match against Netherlands 5-2 but were lagging by 1-3 in the second game. They won the match via a penalty shoot out. The Indian skipper accepted that his side committed some mistakes in the second match but somehow managed to get back on track at the right time.
“We had two great outings as the entire team clicked as a unit and that is why we emerged victorious. We played exceptionally well in the first one but yes, we did make minor mistakes in the next one but managed to make a comeback. Overall, it has been a nice beginning but as it is just the start of the tournament, the upcoming games are very important,” expressed Manpreet.
“As both the teams are equally good, we need to hit the turf with the same energy and passion as we did against the Netherlands. Our main focus will be to have a strong defence and convert any PC chances we get,” he added.
India will take on Belgium on February 8 and 9 before they face Australia on Feb 21 and 22.