India needs to tighten defence ahead of Olympics, says hockey coach Reid

Reid is contended with his side's performance in the just-concluded Europe tour, where India remained unbeaten.

National men's hockey team chief coach Graham Reid feels India needs to accelerate its learning from the Europe tour.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR (FILE)

National men's hockey team chief coach Graham Reid feels India needs to accelerate its learning from the Europe tour and tighten the defence in the build up to this year's Tokyo Olympics.

Reid is contended with his side's performance in the just-concluded Europe tour, where India remained unbeaten.

The two-week tour was India's first assignment since 2020, a year marred by the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm pretty happy with the performance; I'm very happy with the way the tour was -- from point of view of getting some international competition. That was really important," Reid said following the conclusion of the tour on Monday.

READ| Men's Hockey: India beats Great Britain 3-2 to end Europe tour on unbeaten note

In the four-match tour, India secured a 6-1 win and 1-1 draw against Germany in Krefeld and then followed this up with a 1-1 draw and 3-2 win over Great Britain here. The experience, Reid feels will be critical in their preparations for the Tokyo Games.

"We go back to Bengaluru from here and will be training there for a few weeks before we set out on another tour of our FIH Pro League matches in Argentina.

"I believe the next few months leading up to Tokyo is going to be busy for us with competition and some training in between where we will work on the things we need to.

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"The Olympic year has well and truly started now for us and we need to accelerate our learnings," the Australian said.

The coach said there were plenty of take-aways from the tour.

"Our performances against Germany was mixed. It was pretty good beating them 6-1, we took them by surprise and made good use of the opportunities, but we let too many penalty corners in.

"The second game saw better defensive efforts from us. The third against Great Britain was OK. It was a bit colder in Antwerp, different pitch and perhaps we didn't play as well as we should have.

"But the last game (where India beat GB 3-2) was first-class! We led most of the game, came back twice from a stalemate, scored in the last few minutes which is a really important thing to get over," he said.

Reid pointed out that the defence still remains a grey area for India.

"... but the first things that require attention is making sure we tighten our defence. We allow them (opponents) to come back in the middle (of the game) a bit too much. The last match was a little bit better. We are starting to make some ground on that." "We are getting into the 25-mark a lot, we found that during our FIH Pro League matches too but we need to get better returns from our 25 entries. Convert them into circle entries, goal shots, and penalty corners," he said.