World ranking not important in international hockey, says Graham Reid

Indian men's hockey team coach Graham Reid is not underestimating the lower-ranked teams at the FIH Series Finals beginning with the match against world no. 22 Russia.

Indian men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh (L) and Birendra Lakra (R) along with head coach Graham Reid (C) ahead of FIH Series finals in Bhubaneswar.   -  PTI

Complacency is something which has no place in any high performance sport, said Indian men’s hockey team chief coach Graham Reid, insisting that respect for any opponent is the hallmark of a good team.

The Australian tactician will take charge of his first big assignment as India's head coach with the FIH Series Finals beginning on Thursday at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar against world no 22 Russia.

India is the highest ranked side in the tournament. South Africa (16th) and Asian Games champion Japan (18) are the closest to the host in terms of world ranking. The other participating teams are Poland (21st), Uzbekistan, United States (25) and Mexico (39).

However Reid, who replaced Harendra Singh as India coach in April this year, said ranking hardly has any significance in any modern day hockey.

“World ranking is something that FIH (International Hockey Federation) uses to put teams in a particular order but on any given day any team can beat another.

“World hockey has got very close. For me I know what I can control and that’s what I will be focussing on doing. Whatever happens in terms of results will work its way,” Reid said.

Reid made the statement in context of the FIH Series Finals, where India starts as overwhelming favourite having been pitted against seven other lower-ranked sides.

“Complacency for me is not an option in high performance sport. I always try and respect the opposition no matter who they are. They can always score a goal against you and there is no referral here as well,” Reid told PTI on the eve of India’s opening Pool A match against world no. 22 Russia.

Talking about India’s tournament opener against Russia, the Australian said: “We don’t know too much about Russia so we will be treating them like a real threat. We would be preparing for Russia like we do for any good opposition.”

Reid said the recent tour of Australia was a good preparation for India. The team embarks on its quest for Tokyo Olympic qualification with the FIH Series Finals, a tournament from where two teams will seal their places in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in October-November this year.

“The good part of the Australian team was that it gave us focus for these few weeks. I see real focus now in the boys. They understand this is where we need to be and what we need to do get to,” Reid said.