bharatiya khel

Champions Trophy, top-four ranking on Harendra’s agenda

Hockey Sports News

Uthra Ganesan, NEW DELHI, MAY 21, 2018 18:42 IST

While the Asian Games are undoubtedly the biggest assignment for the team this year, Harendra deliberately avoided saying so, instead emphasising on his long-term prospects.
Three weeks in charge of the men’s hockey team and Harendra Singh is already looking forward to the first piece of silverware at the upcoming Champions Trophy next month. He knows it is difficult but is ready to try and create history by winning the final edition of the elite tournament.

“Champions Trophy is very important for me. One, you are getting six quality matches before the Asian Games to judge players’ ability and areas of improvement. Also, a good result at Champions Trophy will help erase the bad memories of Commonwealth Games and provide confidence ahead of the Asiad,” Harendra said in an interaction with The Hindu here.

While the Asian Games are undoubtedly the biggest assignment for the team this year, Harendra deliberately avoided saying so, instead emphasising on his long-term prospects.

“I am not looking at regional dominance. The most important question right now is that while we have been in the top-six for the last three years, why are we not breaking into the top-four? There is a very thin line between winning and losing at this level and the line is defined by how you defend and attack inside the circle. And those are the areas I am looking at,” he insisted.

He also was blunt in saying the team needs to work on its basics. “We are working on stopping the ball inside the circle and deciding what to do with it. Now we say that the ball isn’t stopped inside the circle but that is a problem of basics.

“Strategy will always be there but we cannot ignore basics, which we Indians sometimes tend to ignore. These small details are actually a bigger problem than not having shots on the goal and I am happy and confident we will rectify them very soon,” he declared.

He welcomed the presence of Chris Ciriello — who, incidentally holds an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) passport — in the staff, said it wasn’t difficult adjusting to the boys, most of whom have worked with him at some point in their junior careers and insisted that age would never be a factor for selections, leaving the door open for the likes of Sardar Singh.

In fact, given the number of times Harendra referenced Sardar as a role model with impeccable skills, vision and game-sense, one would expect the former India captain to play an important role in the upcoming outings for the side, form and fitness permitting. And, going by reports from the camp, Sardar ranks among the top on both parameters in the 48-probables’ list.

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