Indian hockey coach Harendra Singh wants to create a legacy at Asian Games

Updated: Aug 17, 2018, 10:42 IST | Harpal Singh Bedi

India hockey team coach reckons defending champions are eager to become country's first side to win back-to-back gold in the Asian Games

Indian hockey coach Harendra Singh wants to create a legacy at Asian Games
The Indian hockey team finished runners-up in the recently concluded Champions Trophy

India's hockey coach Harendra Singh yesterday asserted that his boys are here to create a legacy by winning back-to-back Asian Games gold medals. "We are here to create a legacy by winning the gold for the second successive time," Harendra said. "No Indian men's hockey team has won back-to-back gold and we want to do that," the coach said.

No complacency, please
Asked about the competition, the coach said, "We are confident, but not over-confident. We know that we cannot afford to take any opposition lightly. In fact, no team at such level can do so." On his team's preparation, Harendra said, "We are doing well. The players are fit and eagerly looking to defend the title." The Indian men's team are grouped in Pool A along with South Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong China and Indonesia.

India coach Harendra Singh
India coach Harendra Singh

India start their campaign against hosts Indonesia on August 20. "It is not an easy pool. The former champions Korea, Japan and China are formidable sides," he said. Harendra said his tactics are very simple. "I don't believe in complicated strategies. My advice to the boys is to play simple and straight hockey."

Eye on Tokyo
He said that the boys are well aware that winning here will get them a direct entry into 2020 Tokyo Olympics and also will be a stepping stone towards the World Cup to be played in November at Bhubaneswar. The coach maintained that he will not make any compromise on players' fitness. "This 15-minute-per-quarter format demands speed and hundred per cent fitness. If you don't have the pace, you are at a disadvantage," he said.

Fitness and speed are the criteria for the players to be in the playing XI. "Age is just a number and I do believe if you are fit to survive 60 minutes on the astroturf, then you are there, no matter what your age is," he said. The coach refrained from discussing about other teams, particularly Pakistan. "I am focussed on my players and their fitness. I am not worried about other teams. We will take every opposition seriously and plan for each match according to the situation."

Harendra added: "We are the highest ranked team in the tournament and that gives us a bit of a physiological advantage over other teams, but then, it all boils down to how the we play on that day."

Area of concern
The coach had no hesitation in accepting the fact that penalty corner conversion is one area which needs to be worked on. "I must say that in the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and in the Champions Trophy, our penalty corner conversion rate was not good. We are working on improving that. We are trying to improve the rate of penalty corner conversion. But we also want to score goals first and maintain the lead."

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