India men’s hockey team chief coach Graham Reid has complimented the side for clawing back from a 1-3 deficit and defeating New Zealand 4-3 in the opening match of the Pro League 2022/2023 here on Friday, saying the team’s fighting spirit in the face of extreme pressure was heartening.
The Harmanpreet Singh-led side will next face Spain on Sunday at the Kalinga Stadium.
India rallied from 1-3 in the third quarter with three crucial goals from Harmanpreet (42nd) and Mandeep Singh (52nd and 57th). Mandeep Mor had scored India’s first goal in the 14th minute after which New Zealand struck thrice through Sam Lane (23rd and 36th) and Jake Smith (36th).
“I like how we finished the game and the team’s self-belief coming to the fore. It’s never easy to bounce back from a situation that we were in against New Zealand but it shows the team’s fighting spirit. But it’s important we play all four quarters with that same intensity,” said Reid.
In the previous season of the Pro League, India beat Spain 5-4 in the first match and lost to them 3-5 in the second encounter of the double header. Reflecting on Spain’s potential, Graham said, “Spain is a strong side and has the ability to bounce back from any situation. It’s important for us to keep up the tempo up in all quarters and not drop the momentum at any point in the match.”
Talking about facing India, Max Caldas, Spain’s head coach said, “India is a very good side, they have done well in the recent past including a medal at the Olympic Games. They display good skill and speed. Having said that, we are a motivated side and excited to be here to play these matches.
“We have prepared well and our focus will be the processes we have in place and executing them well. Every match in the Pro League is important for us,” Caldas added.