Our competition starts with Pakistan clash, says Harendra

Indian men’s hockey team chief coach Harendra Singh says his team has shrugged off the disappointment of the Jakarta Games and is looking forward to the keenly awaited contest against arch-rival Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy on Saturday.

Harendra Singh says, "“We are now focused on this tournament and the side is shaping well." (File Photo)   -  Vivek Bendre

Indian men’s hockey team chief coach Harendra Singh says his team has shrugged off the disappointment of the Jakarta Games and is looking forward to the keenly awaited contest against arch-rival Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy on Saturday.

Title holder India started the tournament with a runaway 11-0 victory over host Oman on Thursday, while former champion Pakistan will take on South Korea in its first fixture later Friday.

“The competitive part of the tournament starts Saturday with the match against Pakistan,” said Harendra, who admitted the dejection within the squad when they failed to defend the Asian Games title in Jakarta.

“After the semi-final loss in the Asian Games, the mood was not good for a few days. The disappointment of not winning the Asian Games gold is still playing on the minds of the players somewhat, but we cannot keep thinking of the past,” he said.

India, however, managed to secure bronze with a win over Pakistan.

“We are now focused on this tournament and the side is shaping well. Nine of our players scored goals against Oman in the first outing here. A victory here in the Asian Champions Trophy will be a good path for the World Cup just over a month away. This tournament is close of the World Cup, we need competitive matches and we are getting them,” he said.

Pakistan Skipper Rizwan Senior insisted that his team is not thinking about the India game yet.

“Our first priority is to make a winning start against Korea on Friday. They have made about eight changes in their team and since we don’t know too much about what these new players bring to the team, we have to be quite cautious against them,” he said.

But yes, India- Pakistan matches are always good for the audience and this will be the first time the two teams will be playing in Muscat so naturally the excitement is high among hockey lovers here. Hopefully, we will live up to the expectations and ensure it will be a thrilling match.”