With their vision set on securing qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games by winning Gold, confident Indian Men and Women’s Hockey Teams left for the 18th Asian Games Jakarta 2018 from the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Tuesday morning.
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 2018, the Indian Men will start their title defence against Indonesia on 20th August 2018.
Speaking about improving their previous performance of Bronze Medal in 2014, 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. Although we were disappointed that we did not make the Semi-Finals, winning 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.”
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, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team grouped with Indonesia, 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. We have also worked a lot on our PC conversion, PC defending and shootouts. Now we just need to execute perfectly in every single match and return home with the Gold,” stated Indian Men’s Team Goalkeeper-Captain PR Sreejesh.
In the 2014 Asian Games, India had beaten nemesis Pakistan in a Shootout to win the Gold and earn qualification for the Rio Olympic Games.
On 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 have in the current team we will be fighting to better our performance and ensure we play like a champion squad,” asserted Sreejesh.