Junior hockey team needs to go through sterner tests: Coach

Winning the 8th Junior Men’s Asia Cup is just the beginning for Indian colts and they need to frequently face "sterner tests" to become world beaters, feels coach Harendra Singh.

Indian Junior Men’s Hockey Team celebrating after winning the 8th Junior Men’s Asia Cup against Pakistan by 6-2 in the final.   -  PTI

Winning the 8th Junior Men’s Asia Cup is just the beginning for Indian colts and they need to frequently face “sterner tests” to become world beaters, feels coach Harendra Singh.

With their exceptional play, boosted by Harmanpreet Singh’s hat-trick, India spanked arch rivals Pakistan 6-2, to clinch the eighth Asia Cup yesterday in Kuantan, Malaysia.

“It is just a beginning for this team. We are improving match by match and with this win I am sure that the roadmap we have developed for the junior team is in the right direction,” Harendra told over phone from Kuantan.

He however cautioned that one should not read much into this win. “We must not focus only on tournaments. We need to play against top teams regularly and face sterner tests. I would like to have more bilateral matches against teams like Germany, Belgium, England and Netherlands next year so that we can judge ourselves better. These players need to go through those hard tests.”

When asked about the importance of winning Asia Cup, he said that it will be beneficial at the time of grouping of teams for the next year’s Junior World Cup.

“Indian junior team will play the tournament as sub-continental champions, which will certainly enhance the morale of players. It will also benefit us during the grouping of teams and we might get 1 or 2 relatively easier opponents,” he said.

Junior Hockey World Cup will be held in New Delhi from December 1-11 next year.

Harendra also refused to give credit to any single player for this win and said that in hockey every victory is a result of team efforts. “I don’t like individualistic approach and will never allow that in my team. Hockey is a team game and every win is a result of team efforts and Asia Cup is no exception.”

When asked about his strategy for the final against Pakistan, he said that the team played their natural game and did not take any pressure.

“I did not talk about Pakistan team in the dressing room. I only told my boys to stick to the basics and play it like any other match. I told them to play their natural game, without taking any pressure. Of course I told them about their weaknesses but set realistic goals as well,” the coach concluded.

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