Success in Argentina a confidence booster, but ultimate goal remains Olympic podium: Manpreet Singh
India's campaign in Buenos Aires ended with thrilling victory in the FIH Hockey Pro League double-header against Argentina as well as two wins, one draw, one loss in the practice matches
India successfully ended their campaign in Cenard, Buenos Aires with a 2-2 (3-2 SO) and 3-0 double-header win in the FIH Hockey Pro League tie over the weekend. They had built up to these crucial matches against the Olympic Champions with solid 4-3 win and 4-4 draw in the first two practice matches and ended the tour with 0-1 loss and 4-2 win in the third and four practice matches respective.
The team Skipper Manpreet Singh, though delighted with the team's exploits against the Olympic Champions, cautioned his teammates about reading too much into the results. "No doubt winning against a really strong team like Argentina in their home ground is a big confidence booster, but we shouldn't read too much into the results. We need to keep our heads down and remain focused on the areas that require improvement basis our performance here. Our task is not over until we stand on the podium in Tokyo," stated the Skipper without mincing his words.
Manpreet also highlighted that the team's ability to come back into the game after early setback is a big take-away from the tour. The Skipper set-up a brilliant PC in the final 30 seconds of the first Pro League tie against Argentina which was successfully converted by his deputy Harmanpreet Singh, resulting in the match going into a shootout. "After the matches, we feel there are a few areas we need to improve upon. While we did well as a team to come back into the game even in the dying minutes of the match, we feel we could have started better. Also playing consistently, keeping up the pressure on the opponents in all quarters is another area we need to work on," he stated.
Upon returning to SAI, Bengaluru early next week, the team will dissect these matches further and work on specific areas before they leave for Europe where they will play six FIH Hockey Pro League matches. They are scheduled to take on Great Britain on 8 and 9 May 2021 in London followed by double header against Spain in Valencia on 15 and 16 May 2021. They will play Germany in Hamburg on 22 and 23 May 2021.
"We are really grateful to Hockey India and SAI for ensuring we get to play these important matches ahead of the Tokyo Olympics despite the pandemic. By now, we are used to living in a Bio-bubble and we understand this is the norm today," expressed Manpreet. He further added, "It was great to resume the FIH Hockey Pro League with 5 points from Argentina and we would like to keep this momentum going into the matches in Europe. These matches will surely be a litmus test for us before Tokyo."