Graham Reid insists good defence can win tournaments - Birendra Lakra

Lakra says the men’s national team has improved its defence under the tutelage of the head coach.

Birendra Lakra: “[Graham Reid] often says our defence starts with our forward-line.”   -  K. MURALI KUMAR (FILE)

India coach Graham Reid, known to favour the aggressive brand of hockey, also firmly believes that a strong defence can win tournaments, defender Birendra Lakra said on Saturday. India displayed an attacking brand of play in the FIH Hockey Pro League last month and reaped rewards for it, beating Australia and Belgium.

“Playing aggressive and attacking hockey, pushing for goals and those important circle penetrations is the style of hockey we as a team want to play,” Lakra said.

“Although chief coach Graham’s training often involves high-intensity sessions where he likes to see quality attack, he is also very clear about his expectations from the team’s defence. Graham tells us that a strong line of defence can not only win matches but also tournaments,” he added.

Improvement

Lakra believes the team is improving under the tutelage of Reid. “In the past, there have been times when we have slipped up in defence in the final moments of the match. But I believe we have improved in this aspect over the past couple of months and the coach often says our defence starts with our forward-line,” he said.

ALSO READ | Sjoerd Marijne forced to cancel trip to meet family

Lakra, who had missed the Rio Olympics in 2016 due to a knee surgery, is working towards securing a spot in the team for the Tokyo Games. “I may be an experienced defender in the team but I can’t take my place for granted. Each one of us have to earn our place in the squad for Tokyo and this means we give our 100 per cent in training and matches. I was very unlucky to miss the Rio Olympics due to injury but this time I am really working hard to play the best hockey for my team,” Lakra said.

  Dugout videos