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Indian hockey teams leave for 18th Asian Games
NEW DELHI: Eyeing qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Indian men and women’s hockey teams left for the 18th Asian Games with hopes of winning gold.
While the 18-member women’s team will begin its campaign against hosts Indonesia in a Pool B clash on August 19, the men will begin their title defence against Indonesia a day later.
Speaking about improving on their bronze medal at the last Asiad, women’s team captain Rani 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 semifinal, winning a gold in the Asian Games will help fade the bitter memories of the World Cup.” The women’s team will face Korea, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Indonesia in Pool B and will have to finish in the top two to make the semifinals. Meanwhile the men’s team, grouped with Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong will be aiming to defend its title.
“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.
“We have also worked a lot on our penalty conversion, defending and shootouts. Now we just need to execute perfectly in every single match and return home with the gold,” stated goalkeeper-captain PR Sreejesh. 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 mindset of winning the tournament and get direct qualification for Tokyo Olympics. “However, I feel that with the potential we will play like a champion squad.” (PTI)