Category: Hockey

Home-coming’ Australia land in Bhubaneswar to defend their title

Bhubaneswar (Odisha), 24 November 2018: Going by the words of Captain Aran Zalewski, Australia are under no pressure to defend their title as it’s a home-coming for the World No. 1 team. Arriving in Bhubaneswar on Saturday afternoon, the team looked composed and confident ahead of their title defence campaign.


Australia definitely know a thing or two more about winning in Bhubaneswar as they claimed the Champions Trophy in 2014 and the Hockey World League Final in 2017. Zalewski said they are happy to be back in the City Of Temple. “Definitely, we have a chance to test ourselves against the best in the world as we haven’t tested ourselves since Rio (2016 Olympics) so we want to do very well here,” said Zalewski speaking to media after arriving at the Biju Patnaik Airport.


The defender also agreed that this was one of the most open World Cups in recent times. “World hockey is close at the moment and very competitive and any team can win and obviously India at home with home crowd will be very tough to beat,” said Zalewski.


Head Coach Colin Batch also said it isn’t going to be an easy task for his side even in Pool Stages. “We are the Champions but a long way from winning this tournament. We have a lot of work to do. We saw that in the Women’s World Cup, a lot of surprises sprung up so we have to perform at our best against Ireland in the first game and then see what happens from there,” said Batch, a World Cup winner himself in 1986.


Australia has Ireland, England and China in Pool B and Coach feels they need to play good hockey to beat these sides. “We haven’t seen Ireland for a while but they have played some good hockey. England we have played them a few times, they are a good side and China are a bit unknown so we just take one game a time,” said Batch.


Australia open their title-defence campaign against Ireland on 30 November 2018.

Hon’ble Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley launches Hockey India Coffee Table Book

Delhi, November 22 2018: Leading into the much-awaited Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, Hockey India on Thursday released a curated coffee table book titled ‘The Illustrated History of Indian Hockey: A Saga of Triumph, Pain and Dreams’ capturing the glorious journey of one of India’s most celebrated sports.

Shri Arun Jaitley, Hon’ble Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, released the book alongside FIH & IOA President Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra, Hockey India President Mohd. Mushtaque Ahmad, Hockey India Secretary General Mr. Rajinder Singh and Hockey India CEO Ms. Elena Norman, the book publishers and editors as well as prominent and legendary Indian Hockey players.  

Speaking on the occasion Hon’ble Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley said, “Preserving history is very important, we often preserve it in the form of museums, publications and now a days as audio visuals. Publications like a coffee table book become very important as they are easy read with beautiful pictures. I am quite happy with the way Hockey has developed in the country over the last decade and I would like to wish the team all the very best for the upcoming World Cup.”

“I believe this is the best occasion to launch a book which documents the illustrious history of Indian Hockey. We are less than a week away from the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup and it was essential for a nation with such a rich history in the sport to be able to read and relive it’s glorious past.” saidPresident FIH and IOA, Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra.

“It’s a matter of great pride for us to document and publish India’s illustrious journey with a sport which goes back to over a century of its existence in India. With the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 just around the corner, there would have been no better time than this to release this book for all hockey fans and sporting enthusiasts. I would like to congratulate the authors, publishers and our team for the wonderful compilation of this book.” said Hockey India President, Mohd. Mushtaque Ahmad.

The first-of-its-kind book is enriched with a huge reservoir of historical and other interesting hockey trivia, for readers. The book turns back the clock and documents to India’s performance in the sportsince the 1928 Olympics and other key international events providing exhaustive, in-depth information including the World Cups, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. With over a century of its existence in India, hockey has seen both success and pain. Hockey has a strong emotional connect with our country.

This book traces back to the golden era of hockey where we emerged as the first ‘Super-Power of the game’. It is a literary destination for all things in hockey including highlights of Women’s and Junior Hockey national team’s performances laced with interesting statistics, snippets and factoids. A ‘collectors-item’, the book is an attempt to rekindle people’s interest in the sport and chronicle the glorious moments marking the advent and progress of Hockey in India.

Priority is to top the pool and make the Quarter Final, says Indian Men’s Hockey Team Skipper Manpreet Singh

Bhubaneswar, 15 November 2018: With less than two weeks to go for the start of the prestigious Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 on 28 November which will witness 16 top teams battle for supremacy in front of hockey-crazy spectators at the iconic Kalinga Stadium, hosts the Indian Men’s Hockey Team are busy making final preparations to their campaign.
The side has exuberance of youth with seven members from the 2016 Junior World Cup winning squad. Combined that with the mastery of players such as PR Sreejesh, Chinglensana Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Manpreet Singh who have registered over 150 International appearances for India, the hosts invoke expectations of a top-three finish, something India has not managed to achieve since 1975.
While creating history in Bhubaneswar is on Team India’s mind, Manpreet Singh emphasized on being focused on their immediate goal which is to top the Pool. “There is no doubt we want to win every match in the Pool Stage, earn the three points from each match, and top the Pool to make the Quarter Final. That is our first hurdle. It’s the World Cup and every team will come with an intention of winning and we do not want to take any team lightly, be it South Africa, Canada or World No.3 Belgium,” expressed midfielder Manpreet Singh who has been in lethal form.
The host nation grouped in Pool C will face off against South Africa on 28 November, play Belgium on 2 December followed by their last Pool C match against Canada on 8 December. While the Indian team has not faced South Africa in a major tournament in over two years, Manpreet stated that a win in their first match will set them on the right course. “Though we haven’t played them in any major tournament, we played a practice match against South Africa during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. That match gave us an idea of how they play. Though we won we don’t want to go by the past result. We play them in our first match and it’s always good to get off to a winning start in any tournament,” added the 26-year-old Captain.
While India have tasted success against Belgium in their recent outings — FIH Champions Trophy in Breda and last year’s Hockey World League Final where they beat them in the same ground in the Quarter Final match, Canada has posed India some serious threat in their past campaigns at major International Tournaments. The team had drawn 2-2 against Canada in the round robin league at the Rio Olympics and in the 2017 Hockey World League Semi Final in London, India had lost 3-2 in the 5th-6th place play-off to Canada. “It was a forgettable outing for us but I believe we have improved as a team in the past two years and we have learnt from every tournament. If we play our best hockey, who we are playing should not matter. Even against Belgium, if we are able to score early then the pressure will be on them. For now, our team is focused on winning the three points from each match in Pool C,” he emphasized.

Hockey India names 34-member Core Group for National Camp

New Delhi, 31st October 2018: Hockey India on Wednesday named a 34-member Core Group for the final National Camp before the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 to begin on 1st November 2018 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneswar. The 34 National Campers, will report to Chief Coach Harendra Singh for a 23-day long training camp which concludes on 23rd November ahead of the much-awaited quadrennial event.


The National Camp will give Chief Coach Harendra Singh the chance to work with the Core Group and pick his final 18-member Indian Men’s Hockey Team for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018. The World No. 5 team will look to prepare for the mega-event by training in the host city to get acclimatized to the conditions before they start their campaign against South Africa on 28th November 2018. After having been declared as the Joint Winners at the recently concluded 5th Men’s Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018, the team will undergo intense training sessions under Chief Coach Harendra Singh, who is confident that the National Camp will give all the 34-members the chance to prove their mettle and book a place in the final squad. “Our campaign at the 5th Men’s Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 served as good preparation for the team before the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, but now is the most critical time for us as we look to reinvigorate our spirits and work on the areas which need improvement. The National Camp will give all the 34 Core Group players the chance to work hard and show what edge they can provide to the team,” said Singh.


The 34-member Core Group includes three Goalkeepers PR Sreejesh, Suraj Karkera and Krishan Pathak while defenders Harmanpreet Singh, Gurinder Singh, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Khadangbam, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Jarmanpreet Singh, Pardeep Singh, Suman Beck and Captain of the Junior Men’s team for the Sultan of Johor Cup 2018, Mandeep Mor, have been called up for the National Camp.


Among midfielders, Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Sumit, Simranjeet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Yashdeep Siwach and Vishal Antil have all been selected. Whereas, Akashdeep Singh, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Sumit Kumar, Gursahibjit Singh and Shilanand Lakra have been selected as the forwards.


Meanwhile, ace striker Ramandeep Singh who underwent a knee surgery after sustaining an injury during the FIH Champions Trophy earlier this year, along with seasoned defenders Rupinder Pal Singh and Birendra Lakra, will be re-joining the camp. Experienced Forward SV Sunil completes the 34-man Core Group which shall be considered for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.


“We had trained in Bhubaneswar before the 5th Men’s Hero Asian Champions Trophy to get used to the conditions there, and I believe that playing on the newly-laid turf at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium again before the World Cup will give us a good chance to prepare and analyse the most effective tactics and style of play, which can be used during the tournament. It is also crucial that we learn from our mistakes in all the previous tournaments this year, and work on minimizing errors throughout the three areas of attack, midfield and defence. It is now time for all the Core Group players to step up and show what they can bring to the table,” expressed Harendra Singh.

National Campers List: 


  1. P R Sreejesh
  2. Suraj Karkera
  3. Krishan Bahadur Pathak


  1. Harmanpreet Singh
  2. Gurinder Singh
  3. Varun Kumar
  4. Kothajit Singh Khadangbam
  5. Surender Kumar
  6. Amit Rohidas
  7. Jarmanpreet Singh
  8. Pardeep Singh
  9. Suman Beck
  10. Mandeep Mor
  11. Birendra Lakra
  12. Rupinder Pal Singh


  1. Manpreet Singh
  2. Chinglensana Singh Kangujam
  3. Sumit
  4. Simranjeet Singh
  5. Nilakanta Sharma
  6. Hardik Singh
  7. Lalit Kumar Upadhyay
  8. Vivek Sagar Prasad
  9. Yashdeep Siwach
  10. Vishal Antil


  1. Akashdeep Singh
  2. Gurjant Singh
  3. Mandeep Singh
  4. Dilpreet Singh
  5. Sumit Kumar
  6. Gursahibjit Singh
  7. Shilanand Lakra
  8. Ramandeep Singh
  9. SV Sunil

Indian Men’s Hockey Team declared Joint Winners of the 5th Men’s Hero Asian Champions Trophy 2018

Muscat (Oman), 29 October 2018: The Indian Men’s Hockey Team was declared as the Joint Winners of the 5th Men’s Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 here today after their Final of the competition against Pakistan was abandoned due to bad weather conditions here on Sunday.

India were looking to defend their title which they won back in Kuantan, Malaysia in 2016 when they beat arch-rivals Pakistan 3-2 in the Final. However, the weather conditions in Muscat played spoilsport as heavy rainfall made it difficult for both the teams to start the Final here at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.

World No. 5 India had earlier secured their passage through to the Final of the 5th Men’s Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 after remaining undefeated in the competition with five wins and a draw in their six matches; defeating hosts Oman 11-0, Pakistan 3-1, Japan 9-0, drawing 0-0 against Malaysia, and South Korea 4-1 in the round robin stages; whereas beating Japan again with a margin of 3-2 in the Semi-Final.

The Indian team were also the highest scoring team in the competition as they scored a total of 30 goals in six matches; and consisting of 11 different goal-scorers. India’s Harmanpreet Singh scored the most goals for his team with six goals, while forwards Mandeep Singh and Dilpreet Singh scored five each.

Earlier on Sunday, it was Malaysia who finished at the third place as they defeated Japan 3-2 in Penalty Shootout after the scores remained 2-2 at the end of regulation time in the Bronze Medal match of the competition.

Tata Steel announced as an Official Partner of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018

Bhubaneswar, 29 October 2018: Indian multinational steel-making giant Tata Steel was today announced as an Official Partner for the prestigious Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 which is scheduled to be held from November 28 – December 16, 2018 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in the capital city of Odisha. Tata Steel, the 10th-largest steel producer in the world, signed the agreement with the quadrennial event to continue their efforts of promoting development through sports throughout the country.

Ms. Elena Norman, CEO, Hockey India, expressed her delight at welcoming Tata Steel as an Official Partner for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, “We are thrilled to announce Tata Steel as an Official Partner for the prestigious Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018. It is an important tournament for everyone involved with the sport of hockey, and we are delighted to have the support of the steel-making giant. I would like to thank Tata Steel for associating with the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 and I hope that they continue to support Indian hockey in the future as well.”

“Tata Steel has a long and enduring commitment to sports. Over the years, we have created infrastructure for every sports discipline, including hockey, that is popular in and around our areas of operation. Tata Steel is the first private sector company in India to start a hockey academy. Tata Steel is proud to be associated with the Hockey World Cup, which is being held for the first time in the eastern part of India,” said Mr Sunil Bhaskaran, Vice President, Corporate Services, Tata Steel.

The Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 is the 14th edition of the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup and will be the third time that India will be hosting the prestigious competition after having played hosts in 1982 in Bombay and in 2010 in New Delhi. A total of sixteen nations will take part in the tournament which will see each team play three matches during the league stage over the span of twelve days before four cross-over matches take place on 10th and 11th December, 2018. The knockout matches will take place on 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th as the teams will look to become the Champions of the prestigious quadrennial event which was won by Australia in 2014.

The general tickets for the event are priced at Rs 200 (East Stand), Rs 100 (North Stand) and Rs 100 (South Stand) for the Pool and Crossover matches while tickets for the Quarter-Final, Semi-Final and Final matches are priced at Rs 250 (East Stand), Rs 150 (North Stand) and Rs 150 (South Stand). All general tickets for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 are available online at

Indian Men’s Hockey Team beat South Korea 4-1 in 5th Men’s Hero Asian Champions Trophy 2018

Muscat (Oman), 25 October 2018: The Indian Men’s Hockey Team secured the top spot in the Pool stages of the 5th Men’s Hero Asian Champions Trophy 2018 as they defeated South Korea 4-1 in their fifth and final round robin match held here at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Wednesday. The Indian team secured the three points through Harmanpreet Singh’s hat-trick of goals scored in the 5th, 47th and 59th minutes and Gurjant Singh’s 10th-minute strike which saw India secure the top spot in Pool Standings with a tally of 13 points from their five matches and a goal difference of 25, and progress to the Semi-Final match of the competition.

Having played a goalless draw against Malaysia on Tuesday, the Indian team looked to cement their position at the top of the Pool Standings by attacking the South Koreans from the opening whistle. The Indian team maintained possession in the opening few minutes and were awarded their first Penalty Corner in the 5th minute which was fiercely struck in the top right corner by drag-flicker Harmanpreet Singh, to give India the lead. In the following minutes, South Korea seemed content in sitting back and maintaining a compact structure, which made it difficult for the Indians to break through but in the 9th minute, Striker Akashdeep Singh had a chance to score but saw his shot blaze over the crossbar. Good game-reading in the following minute saw the World No. 5 team extend their lead to two goals as they scored through a counter attack in which Harmanpreet Singh found Gurjant Singh inside the South Korean circle with a precise long pass, the young striker obliging by making a turn and shooting into the top left corner with a tomahawk.

India started the second quarter with some high pressing again but it was South Korea’s turn to open their account as they scored in the 20th minute against the run of play when a clearance by Surender Kumar was intercepted by a Korean player and passed onto Lee Seungil on the right side of the Indian circle, and the Korean Captain struck a vicious shot from a tight angle to beat PR Sreejesh and make the scores 2-1. Two minutes later, South Korea won their first Penalty Corner but the resulting execution was blocked by the first rusher, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam. Both the teams had their chances before the half-time break but neither could produce the goods in the final third as India took their 2-1 lead into the interval.

The third period started on an anxious note for India as the South Koreans scored inside 29 seconds, but the goal was disallowed after a successful referral by the Indian team. Another referral five minutes later, but this time for the World No. 14 side saw them win another Penalty Corner, but the resulting execution was well defended by Indian Captain Manpreet Singh who saw away the danger. Both the teams battled for possession throughout the third quarter but could not find any real opening.

It was only in the fourth quarter that India finally managed to make the most of their opportunity as Harmanpreet Singh converted his second Penalty Corner when he thrashed the ball into the top left corner, past South Korean Goalkeeper Kim Jaehyeon to extend India’s lead to 3-1 after 47 minutes. South Korea tried to make a comeback as they were awarded a Penalty Corner in the 54th minute, but Indian Goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak made a great reflex save off Jang Jonghyun’s slider shot to deny the South Korean. India made sure that they rotated possession well in the final few minutes and created another chance in the 59th minute as Striker Mandeep Singh was blocked by a Korean defender inside the circle. Playing with a kicking back for the final few moments, South Korea could not effectively defend the Penalty Corner as Harmanpreet Singh scored to complete his hat-trick and secure the three points for India. 

On 27th October 2018, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team will play their Semi-Final match of the competition.

Indian Men’s Hockey Team beat Japan 9-0 in 5th Men’s Hero Asian Champions Trophy 2018

Muscat (Oman), 22 October 2018: The Indian Men’s Hockey Team maintained their 100% record at the 5th Men’s Hero Asian Champions Trophy 2018 as they produced a stunning 9-0 victory over Japan in their third round robin match held here at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Sunday. The World No. 5 team dominated proceedings from the start and scored goals in all the four quarters through Mandeep Singh (4’, 49’, 57’), Harmanpreet Singh (17’, 21’), Gurjant Singh (8’), Akashdeep Singh (36’), Sumit (42’) and Lalit Upadhyay (45’) to register a convincing victory and remain at the top of the Pool Standings.

The Indian team, riding high on confidence after their 3-1 victory against Pakistan on Saturday, started the match with a good rhythm as Forwards Lalit Upadhyay and Akashdeep Singh had chances in the opening few minutes, but it was Mandeep Singh who scored the opener for India in the 4th minute as he deflected Akashdeep Singh’s vicious low cross from the left flank, through the Japanese Goalkeeper’s leg and into the back of the net. India’s dominance in the opening period saw them win their first Penalty Corner in the 8th minute, which was taken by Harmanpreet Singh and resulted in a goal for Gurjant Singh. Drag-flicker Harmanpreet struck the ball in the centre of goal, forcing Japanese Goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa to save the shot through his body, but the ball fell kindly to Gurjant Singh, who pushed it into the back of the net to make it 2-0.

The Indian team continued to dominate the match in the second quarter which saw them win a Penalty Stroke in the 17th minute as Varun Kumar’s execution of a Penalty Corner was saved by Japan’s Goalkeeper Yusuke Takano but skipper Manpreet Singh was the quickest to react, and his shot was intercepted on the line by the head of a Japanese defender. It was Harmanpreet Singh who kept his composure to stroke the ball crisply towards the right of Takano to give India a three-goal advantage. The goal-scorer was in action again in the 21st minute as he drilled in a Penalty Corner towards the right side of goal, beating the Japanese defenders and scoring his second goal of the match. It was a difficult match for the World No. 16 Japanese team as they struggled to put pressure on the Indians, and had to go into the half-time break trailing by four goals.

The third quarter started with both the teams trying to create chances, but it was India who maintained their upper hand as they scored a fifth goal six minutes after restart which was scored by Akashdeep Singh. The following minutes saw India play with 10-men as Forward Dilpreet Singh was awarded a Yellow Card for pushing a Japanese player, but the World No 5 team showcased their quality by scoring twice through Sumit (42’) and Lalit Upadhyay (45’). First, it was Kothajit Singh who found himself free on the left side of the circle, and struck a fierce shot which was cleverly deflected by Sumit to place it in between the Goalkeeper’s legs. While Lalit Upadhyay scored his first of the match with just one second left on the clock as he was found at the edge of the circle by a low drilled cross from the right flank, and did well to wriggle and create space to score India’s seventh goal.

India continued to put pressure on the Japanese defence in the last quarter as they scored in the 49th minute through a Penalty Corner in which the defending Champions tried a variation. It was Harmanpreet Singh who played a brilliant back-door pass to Varun Kumar, whose slider pass to Mandeep Singh was put in the back of the net on the second attempt by the striker. On the other end of the field, Japan had a chance to open their account in the 53rd minute as they won themselves a Penalty Corner, but the resulting strike was wide of the target as India continued to test the Japanese defence. Forward Mandeep Singh was in action again in the 57th minute as he completed his hat-trick by deflecting Manpreet Singh’s hard and low pass across goal into the back of the net to secure a 9-0 victory for the Indian team.

On 23 October 2018, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team will play their fourth round robin match against Malaysia at 22.40hrs IST.

Strikers taking too long in making decisions, says Indian hockey coach Harendra Singh

MUSCAT, October 21: Indian Men’s hockey team Chief Coach Harendra Singh wants the strikers to sharpen up and take less time in making decisions. Complimenting his team for the spirit shown in posting a 3-1 victory after conceding lead in the first minute to Pakistan in the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018, Harendra says he is proud of the way the team staged a comeback on Saturday.
“I am proud of the manner in which the Indian team staged a comeback. They deserve full credit, but I remain concerned with our finishing,” said Harendra.
“We missed a few chances. We are taking too much time to make decisions. That’s where we need to sharpen up,” he said.
“Any team can score early, but what mattered is how our team came back from the early reversal,” said Harendra.
Captain Manpreet Singh, who was adjudged Hero Player of the Match, said the team needs to guard against giving away easy opportunities to the rivals. “Despite playing a good match, there are many things we need to do. We need to guard against conceding easy chances,” said Manpreet.
“I do not think we should have conceded that early goal,” he said.
Pakistan got a penalty corner in the 35th second of the match and capitalised on it to surge ahead. Aleem Bilal’s penalty corner shot was blocked by Indian goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, but Muhammad Irfan Jr. picked up the rebound to shoot home.
India went all out to look for an equaliser, but Pakistan packed the defence to keep the strikers at bay until Manpreet scored a fine field goal to equalise in the 24th minute. Mandeep Singh (31st minute) and Dilpreet Singh (42nd minute) scored field goals to seal India’s victory in the six-nation competition’s showpiece fixture of the preliminary league.
Pakistan team’s manager Hasan Sardar said it was a mistake to fall too back in their own half and allow free space to the Indians.
“We fell back too much. Any team that is allowed to attack to that extent will get chances. We made it easy for India by withdrawing too much,” Sardar said.
“It was in the second half that we also came out and attacked,” he said. “In this game, we were good in parts and disorganised in some other parts. From the chances we created, we should have scored two goals.”
“We can play a lot better. We look forward to a more organised game in our next outing,” Sardar added.

India are the top contenders to win the Hero Asian Champions Trophy title, says Japan Chief Coach Siegfried Aikman

Muscat, 15 October, 2018: With just three days to go for the start of the much-awaited Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018, the top Asian teams have descended on the beautiful Capital city of Muscat for a battle of supremacy in the continent. Asian Games Gold Medalists Japan, who arrived yesterday along with their nemesis Korea, Malaysia and Pakistan, will be joined by Defending Champions India who arrive today. A free-wheeling conversation with the Japanese Coach Siegfried Aikman, a Dutch national of Indian origin, on Monday revealed his team’s strategical approach to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where they will be gunning for a podium finish.
Aikman, without mincing words said, “We wanted to enter the 2020 Olympic Games not as host nation but as Continental Champions. We had to win big in order to gain that self-confidence that we too can beat big teams and that we are not afraid of teams like Korea, Pakistan, Malaysia or India anymore.”
At the forthcoming Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018, Japan will have the platform to reinstate this self-belief and reassert their supremacy in Asia when they take on World No.5 India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Korea, Oman and prove to the world that the Asian Games Gold Medal was not a one-off incident. “Of course we will be playing to win every single match but at the same time we will also be testing quite a few young players who are below the age of 20, in order to select a core group that will give us enough options and also create more competition within the team ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games,” stated Aikman, who is a master at accurately studying the opponents’ weaknesses and successfully using it to Japan’s advantage. It is what they did in the Final of the Asian Games where they were 0-4 at half time against Malaysia but made a sensational comeback to draw 6-6 in regulation time and go into a shootout.
“It was in fact against India that we had planned thoroughly to play against in the Final of Asian Games. After we drew in our final Pool match, we knew we wouldn’t face India in the Semi Final but were expecting to meet them in the Final and had strategically prepared for it. We had strategised differently against them in the pool stage and would used a different strategy had we played them in the Final. However, because of their loss against Malaysia, we will never know how we would have done against them in a Final. I think for our team, it was also critical to have won a few matches against Pakistan in the lead up to the Asian Games that helped boost our confidence,” he added.
At the tournament in Muscat which begins on 18 October 2018, Japan will begin their campaign against Malaysia on the opening day. According to Aikman, his team will not be looking at results as much as they would like to emphasis on their own game. The Dutchman explained, “For us it is extremely important to focus on our own game and work on certain areas that will put us in good stead and help us build on our game for 2020. While we will play to win, results will not matter as much as playing a disciplined game.”
Speaking of who would be the title contenders for this year’s edition, Aikman called out India without skipping a beat. “India are undoubtedly the contenders for winning the tournament. They have the skills, tactical awareness and fitness but they are vulnerable under pressure and that’s the area which we need to capitalize if we want to success against them,” Aikman concluded.        
Japan will take on Malaysia in the opening match at the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 while India play hosts Oman in the second match of the day.