Hockey World Cup 2023: India to focus on own strengths, go big against Wales

As for any update on Hardik Singh’s injury, Indian coach Graham Reid refused to get into the details but did mention that the MRI was much better than what they had hoped.

Indian hockey team coach Graham Reid (left) and captain Harmanpreet Singh during a press conference on the eve of the Group D match against Wales in the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 at Kalinga Hockey stadium in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

Indian hockey team coach Graham Reid (left) and captain Harmanpreet Singh during a press conference on the eve of the Group D match against Wales in the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023 at Kalinga Hockey stadium in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: BISWARANJAN ROUT

As for any update on Hardik Singh’s injury, Indian coach Graham Reid refused to get into the details but did mention that the MRI was much better than what they had hoped.

India’s pursuit of the top spot in Pool D might just come down to goal difference in its last league match against Wales but while the team admits it will be good to know the details, it is not losing any sleep over it.

Both coach Graham Reid and captain Harmanpreet Singh were on the same page when asked about the scoreboard pressure. “It’s probably an advantage knowing what your objective is but I don’t think we will be getting transfixed on it, it’s dangerous. You play your normal game, move the ball around, play simple. If you continuously worry about the result the adrenaline becomes too much. The message will be to keep it simple and stay patient.

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“Wales is a very good team, they will hurt you if you give too much space. Like in cricket, if you are batting second, you know what you need to score. But as far as preparations are concerned, there is no difference, the focus is on winning, not playing differently,” Reid explained on the eve of the game.

Harmanpreet agreed. “When we get that update (of what we need to do), it is better. But our focus is to play our best. Even if we know we need only one or two goals, it’s not like we are going to go in with that mindset.

The coach is also not worried about the lack of goals so far from his team but did mention what he expected from his forwards. “I am not sure there is any specific reason. We have created enough opportunities, I would be worried if we were not doing that. We just need to focus on the execution of skills. To be honest I am very proud of the way my team has played.

“I think the most important thing is adding a bit of calmness, sometimes they are rushing a little bit and not making the right choices. But those things can happen to anyone in the heat of the moment. Against England we made better choices, our position is okay – we just need to execute it,” he said.

Reid also defended the low penalty corner conversion rate, something that has been common for most sides so far here, crediting instead the PC defence. “What we are seeing is the next generation of PC defence. With video analyses, you pretty much analyse a lot of things from around the corner, trying to block options. I think what happens in World Cups or big games is that you end up with a team that is well-drilled because everyone is together, everyone has the best runners,” he said.

As for any update on Hardik Singh’s injury, the coach refused to get into the details. “I am not going to give any details. We will decide tomorrow, watch this space. The MRI was much better than what we have hoped, it gives us hope of him playing again in this tournament. It was certainly better than what we had thought,” was all he was willing to say.

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