With just a month to go for the FIH Men’s Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021 which is scheduled to begin on November 24, the national team’s preparations to defend the title are in full swing at the SAI centre here.
Chief Coach Graham Reid who is overseeing the team’s training expressed that the players are excited to compete with the world’s best teams on home ground.
“There is definitely a lot of excitement among the players and there is some anxiousness too as we are yet to pick the final team that will play in the Junior World Cup. But having said that, the players are all very upbeat and are looking forward to playing in Bhubaneswar as they have heard a lot about the venue from their senior compatriots,” stated Reid who coached the Indian Men’s Team to a historic Olympic Bronze Medal in Tokyo.
Indian boys are grouped in pool B along with France, Canada and Poland. They will begin their campaign on November 24 with their opening match against France. India will play their second pool B match on November 25 against Canada and will play Poland in their third pool match on November 27.
Speaking about the pool stage and the teams India is grouped with, Reid said, “No team can be taken lightly in an event like the World Cup. I always tell the players to take it one match-at-a-time and not get ahead of ourselves at any point in the tournament until we have achieved what we have set out for. What is important for us is to get some good practice matches in Bhubaneswar so the players get a feel of the pitch and I am talking to coaches of some European teams to see if we can play friendlies with them when they arrive in Bhubaneswar.”
Reflecting on Reid’s thoughts, Coach BJ Kariappa who has been with the India Colts team since 2017 stated that this is a talented bunch and is ready to put up a good challenge in Bhubaneswar.
“The good thing about our preparations is that both Junior and Senior Men are housed in the same campus here in SAI, Bengaluru. So, we get to play a lot of internal matches with the Senior team and the energy within the group is great and each one is pushing the other player to perform on a daily basis. This group has some really talented players with good skill. I believe we are ready for the challenge in Bhubaneswar.”
The other 15 teams in the fray are Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Egypt, France, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Spain, The Netherlands and the United States.