New Delhi– With their vision set on securing qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, confident Indian men and womens hockey teams on Tuesday left for the 18th Asian Games to be held in Jakarta.
While the 18-member women’s team will begin their campaign against hosts Indonesia in their opening match in Pool B clash on 19 August, the men’s will begin their title defence against Indonesia on 20 August, according to a statement.
Speaking about improving their previous performance of Bronze Medal in 2014, women’s team captain Rani Rampal said: “We are going into the Asian Games after a strong performance in the FIH Women’s World Cup 2018 which has given us a lot of confidence.”
“Though we were disappointed that we did not make the Semi Final, winning a Gold in the Asian Games will help fade the bitter memories of the World Cup. The team is upbeat, confident and we are eager to further improve our career best World Ranking of No.9 by winning the Asian Games,” he added.
The women’s team will face Korea, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Indonesia in Pool B and will have to finish in the top two in the Pool Stage to make the Semi Final of the Asian Games.
Meanwhile men’s team grouped with Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong China will be aiming to defend their title and ensure good momentum as they approach the season Finale in November at the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.
“We had good lead-up to the Asian Games with high intensity training camp in Bengaluru. We also did well in the practice matches against Bangladesh, Korea and New Zealand where we wanted to implement certain changes in goal-scoring positions within the striking circle because that was one of the areas we fell behind in the FIH Champions Trophy 2018,” stated the goalkeeper-Captain PR Sreejesh.
“We have also worked a lot on our penalty corner conversion, penalty corner defending and shootouts. Now we just need to execute perfectly in every single match and return home with the Gold,” he added.
Asked who would be India’s toughest opponent this time around, Sreejesh said, “No team can be taken lightly because every single team would come with the mind set of winning the tournament and get direct qualification for Tokyo Olympics.
“However, I feel that with the potential we have in the current team we will be fighting to better our own performance and ensure we play like a champion squad,” asserted Sreejesh. (IANS)