Harmanpreet Singh: SA tour will help India prepare for Asian Games, Commonwealth Games

“We are really excited for our first assignment of 2022,” the India vice-captain says ahead of its short tour of South Africa.

India vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh..."We begin our season against two quality sides, so it's a great thing." - HOCKEY INDIA

FIH Pro League matches against strong teams in France and South Africa will help the Indian team assess itself and prepare for other major tournaments later this year, says vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh.

India is set to take on South Africa and France in the opening matches of their FIH Hockey Pro League 2021-22 campaign, starting here from Tuesday. India will play two matches each against both teams on the tour.

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“We are really excited for our first assignment of 2022. We begin our season against two quality sides, so it’s a great thing. Our focus is to gain momentum, and make a positive start as we approach this year step-by-step. These FIH Hockey Pro League matches will certainly help us prepare for the forthcoming major events,” Harmanpreet said.

Harmanpreet felt the matches will help his team prepare for the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games later this year.

  • February 8: France v India
  • February 9: South Africa v India
  • February 12: France v India
  • February 13: South Africa v India

“We have a busy 2022 year, with a lot of important tournaments lined up in the next 12 months, so we need to ensure that we are fully prepared. I think the FIH Hockey Pro League 2021-22 matches will not only help us gain the experience but will also give us the understanding about where we stand with regards to our game as well as training.

“You see, there’s always room for improvement, so apart from executing our skills and plans, our focus will also remain on improving our game, and that’s where I think Pro League matches will play a vital role.”

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India will play its first match against France on Tuesday. The last time both the teams faced each other was during the 2015 Fintro Hockey World League semifinal, India winning 3-2. Speaking ahead of the game, Harmanpreet said the match will be challenging for his team.

“We haven’t played against France in a long time. They are a really good side, and, no doubt, it will be a challenging match for us,” he said.

“Our focus will remain on playing good hockey, executing our skills, and making the best out of the opportunities. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s match. We will definitely give our 100 per cent, and hopefully, start the campaign with a win.”

India will then square off against host team South Africa on Wednesday. The last time both teams faced each other was during the Final of the FIH Men’s Series Finals in 2019. India won 5-1. India has won all three matches it has played against South Africa.

Harmanpreet anticipated a good challenge from South Africa. He said: “South Africa are a quality team. They are currently ranked 10th in the world, and are capable of beating any team on a given day, so you just can't underestimate them. It will certainly be a good challenge for us, and we are really excited to face a good team like South Africa.”

After a two-day break, India will play France on February 12 followed by host South Africa on February 13.

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