Our focus is on winning Asian Games and WC, says Marijne

Marijne sees other tournaments as a preparatory platform to pursue his team’s goal.

Sjoerd Marijne: "We are taking every tournament very seriously".   -  Biswaranjan Rout

With as many as four major tournaments lined up this year - Commonwealth Games, Champions Trophy, Asian Games and the season-ending FIH men’s World Cup, besides the Azlan Shah Cup - Indian men’s hockey team head-coach Sjoerd Marijne has set his sights on retaining the Asia Games crown to give the players ample time to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"If you win the Asian Games, you become the first team in the world to qualify for the Olympics. So you get almost 2 years to prepare and that would be perfect. That’s what we are aiming for,” a determined Marijne told reporters here on Thursday.

'Good depth in the team'

Marijne sees other tournaments as a preparatory platform to pursue his team’s goal.

“But every tournament this year is important because it will help us prepare for the big events. So we are taking every tournament very seriously,” he said.

“The Champions Trophy we can use to prepare for the Asian Games. The level is really high and that’s good for us. It’s really an honour to be a part of the last Champions Trophy.”

Since taking over reins of the team four months back, Marijne has been experimenting with the squad and the coach said the process will continue until he finds the right combination.

“During the New Zealand tour, we had another group from the Hockey World League Finals and Asia Cup and it will be the same with the Azlan Shah and the Commonwealth Games. We have to think about the mental state of the players and their body,” he said.

“We have good depth in the team. We have involved a lot of players in the last few months and we did that with purpose thinking about this year. In the New Zealand tour a few youngsters made their debut,” Marijne said.

“It’s about finding the right mix of experienced and junior players. We want to have depth.”

'Want to win everything'

Marijne so far has had a successful outing with the Indian men’s team, winning medals in both the Hockey World League Final and Asia Cup.

“It’s nice to win medals but it’s important to stay critical because if you think everything is good you will not improve. If you are critical of yourself then you are taking steps and that’s what we are doing now,” he said.

Asked whether he feels any outside pressure, Marijne replied, “No, I don’t. The highest pressure I feel is from myself. I want to win everything. But the most important is players want to win.

“They want to have a legacy and there is nothing beautiful than creating a legacy. And you do that by winning medals.”

Veteran Sardar Singh is in the twilight of his career and is no longer certain in the squad.  But Marijne refused to comment anything on individual players.

“I never talk about individual players. I can’t say anything about the announcements of the team for Azlan Shah,” he said.

“We look at every tournament in a different way. We try to have a combination of experienced and junior players in every tournament.”