"No team can be taken lightly in an event like the World Cup" — Graham Reid
Reid said the junior side should play some practice matches against quality opponents before it starts the defence of its FIH Junior World Cup title
The senior Indian men's hockey team chief coach Graham Reid on Thursday said the junior side should play some practice matches against quality opponents before it starts the defence of its FIH Junior World Cup title in Bhubaneswar next month.
Emphasizing the importance of playing practice games, Reid, who is overseeing India's preparation for the event to be held from November 25 to December 5, said he is trying to arrange a few matches against some participating European nations.
"What is important for us is to get some good practice matches in Bhubaneswar so the players get a feel of the pitch and I am talking to coaches of some European teams to see if we can play friendlies with them when they arrive in Bhubaneswar."
India was handed a relatively easy pool but Reid, who coached the senior team to a historic bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, warned the juniors against complacency. India, who won the last edition of the event in 2016 at Lucknow, are grouped alongside France, Canada and Poland in Pool B.
Reid said the players must focus on one match at a time and not think too far ahead. "No team can be taken lightly in an event like the World Cup. I always tell the players to take it one match at a time and not get ahead of ourselves at any point in the tournament until we have achieved what we have set out for," the Australian said in a statement issued by Hockey India.
India will begin their campaign against France on November 24 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, followed by matches against Canada (November 25) and Poland (November 27).
The Indian colts are currently training alongside the seniors at the SAI centre here under the watchful eyes of Reid and junior side coach BJ Kariappa, who has been with the side since 2017. Kariappa said having the senior players around has been a blessing in disguise ahead of the showpiece.
"The good thing about our preparations is that both junior and senior men are housed in the same campus here in SAI, Bengaluru. So, we get to play a lot of internal matches with the senior team and the energy within the group is great and each one is pushing the other player to perform on a daily basis. This group has some really talented players with good skills. I believe we are ready for the challenge," he said.
The other competing teams in the tournament are Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Egypt, France, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Spain, The Netherlands and the United States.