It has been few weeks since India's departure from 14th Men's Hockey World Cup. It concluded with Belgium's maiden World Cup title whereas hosts India ended their campaign in the quarterfinals losing to eventual runners-up Netherlands. Talking about the disappoiting run, India captain Manpreet Singh has stated they need to get over their early exit and shift focus on the challenge of qualifying for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Indeed, 2018 proved to be an unimpressive run for India. They failed to live upto expectations and bowed out without any success in all three big ticket events — the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Cup.
The men’s team will commence 2019 with the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia in March and will also be preparing for the Olympic Qualifiers. “It is now important for us to move on from the disappointments of 2018. There are always lessons we learn from every tournament we play regardless of how the result went and this time too, we will meet as a unit when we report for National Camp in February and discuss on the areas that need improvement."
With the FIH Series Finals in June to be held in Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium, the team’s main focus for the year will be to win an Olympic Qualification. “The road to 2020 Olympic Games will be challenging and surely the ideal way to qualify would have been winning the Asian Games like we did in 2014. But that should not be a deterrent to our motivation. We have a good setup, very talented pool of players with good international experience. We just need to remain focused," added Manpreet.
The men’s Team finished fourth at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, settled for a bronze at the Asian Games and exited the World Cup at Bhubaneswar after a close 1-2 loss in the quarterfinals against The Netherlands.
The team’s silver lining came at the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat where they split the title with Pakistan and remained unbeaten in the tournament.
Manpreet opined, “What Belgium has achieved over the years is quite remarkable and my hearty congratulations to them for winning the World title. As far as our performance is concerned, we (Indian team) are obviously disappointed and regret not using the home support to our advantage. We had topped the Pool and were very positiive going into the Quarter Final against the Netherlands. It was a close match and though personally I am very disappointed we lost in the Quarter Final, I am proud of my team. We gave our best particularly the youngsters who were playing the World Cup for the first time.”
The midfielder, however, believes that the exposure that the young players got at the World Cup will hold the unit in good stead for future.
About the Author
Aditya Sahay, a former cricket reporter/writer and statistician, has shifted gears to other sports (primarily badminton, tennis, kabaddi, hockey, golf etc). While cricket remains his first love, he enjoys covering and writing on kabaddi, hockey and tennis. He dons Germanys jersey during FIFA and believes Dhoni Dhoni hai, isko (aur) mauka mila toh bahut aage jayega