FIH Professional League: Refinement the mantra as India braces up for England problem

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The continued marketing campaign of the FIH Professional League has thrown up options and issues for the Indian males’s hockey workforce. After the Tokyo Olympics, coach Graham Reid has been on an experimental spree with the bigger image – Asian Video games later this yr and World Cup in 2023 – in thoughts.

A brand new-look assault, which is taking form, has been among the many targets, scoring 41 in eight matches, and taking the workforce over the road. The skilled Mandeep Singh stays the chief in assault with the fresh-faces Abhishek and Sukhjeet Singh displaying promise. The emergence of defender Jugraj Singh, who made his debut through the event and scoring two penalty corners in opposition to Argentina, in its place drag-flicker within the workforce to Harmanpreet Singh, bodes nicely after its struggles from penalty corners in latest video games.

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However a largely settled and skilled defence has been porous, conceding 23 in return. Turnover in possession has usually left it uncovered on the again and defensive errors has led to the facet letting in 14 targets within the final 4 matches.

Reid’s males will likely be hoping to squash some doubts and switch in a few convincing performances when it hosts England in a two-legged tie on the Kalinga Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.

Trying to enhance

Vice-captain and defender Harmanpreet burdened on the necessity for precision in assault and extra self-discipline on the again. He mentioned, “Our primary focus is to make the workforce stronger match by match. We’re studying loads about our weaknesses and strengths. We have to enhance our ending and create extra penalty corners. The choice making wants to enhance. The defenders have to keep away from conceding penalty corners and sort out exterior the circle.”

After a final minute winner in opposition to Argentina final month, India now sits second within the standings and a degree behind Germany.

Whereas Argentina posed a bodily battle over the 2 legs, an experimental England facet will show a special check for the Indian workforce. England, positioned seventh on the desk from 4 matches, comes into the tie on the again of successive defeats in opposition to Argentina in February. Zak Jones, the interim head coach, is eager to make use of the Professional League video games to construct preparation for the house Commonwealth Video games and the World Cup in India.

‘Shut video games’

“We’re in an early section of our preparation with new gamers. We’re taking a look at constructing relationships and mixture performs, so these video games are essential for us to construct momentum to the Commonwealth Video games,” mentioned Jones.

Jones expects tightly fought contests over the weekend in opposition to a skilful Indian facet.

“Plenty of prime stage video games are determined by small margins. They have been shut video games in opposition to Spain and Argentina [for us]. I see quite a lot of similarities between how Argentina and India play. They’ve skilful one-v-one gamers and have some good organisation of their play,” he mentioned.

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