Coach Harendra wants team to look ahead with positive approach

The Asian Games setback still fresh in his mind, Indian hockey team chief coach Harendra Singh is determined to start afresh with a positive mindset.

Harendra Singh says bronze was a consolation but no excuse for making the Asian Games final.   -  K. Murali Kumar

The Asian Games setback still fresh in his mind, Indian hockey team chief coach Harendra Singh is determined to start afresh with a positive mindset and make amends in the upcoming international assignments.

Going into the Asiad as the defending champions, India ended its campaign on a disappointing note with a bronze medal after beating arch-rivals Pakistan in the third-place game.

“The bronze medal was a consolation and there is no excuse for not making it to the final of the Asian Games,” Harendra said.

“There is no point looking back at the loss but now it’s critical for us to look ahead with a fresh, positive approach,” he added.

Hockey India on Wednesday named a 25-member core group for a national camp in Bhubaneswar from September 16 as part of preparation for the Asian Champions Trophy and the World Cup.

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“The idea of training in Bhubaneswar was to get acclimatised to the conditions. We are also looking at playing on the newly-laid turf at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium which will host the World Cup,” Harendra said.

“This is a very important phase in the lead up to the season finale starting on November 28 and we intend to critically analyse our mistakes during the Asian Games, not just in our match against Malaysia but the other matches too.

“Asian Champions Trophy will be one tournament where we will be executing the changes made during this national camp,” he added.

In the probables, the forwards who have made the cut are S.V. Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh and Sumit Kumar.

Ace striker Ramandeep Singh, who underwent a knee surgery after sustaining an injury during the FIH Champions Trophy, and defender Birendra Lakra, will be undergoing rehabilitation from September 16.

The players will report to Harendra for a month-long training that concludes on October 14 ahead of the 10-day Asian Champions Trophy, which will begin on October 18 in Muscat, Oman where India will defend its title.

The core group includes three goalkeepers P.R. Sreejesh, Suraj Karkera and Krishan Pathak while the defenders are Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Gurinder Singh, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh and the young Pardeep Singh.

Among midfielders, Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Sumit, Simranjit Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Vivek Sagar Prasad have been selected.