IMAGE: India’s men’s hockey team pose for a picture in Bengaluru prior to their departure for the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Tuesday Photograph: Hockey India
The Indian men’s hockey team is looking to extend its impressive run at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, beginning September 23.
India, bronze medallists at the Jakarta Asian Games in 2018, are placed in Pool A, alongside Pakistan, Japan, Bangladesh, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.
Pool B comprises Korea, Malaysia, China, Oman, Thailand, and Indonesia.
The top two teams from each pool qualify for the semi-finals.
The Indian squad, led by Harmanpreet Singh, which flew from Bengaluru to Hangzhou on Tuesday, begin their campaign against Uzbekistan on September 24.
“The team has been rigorously preparing for the Asian Games and we performed well at the recently-concluded Asian Champions Trophy in Chennai, so the goal is to maintain that level of performance,” said Harmanpreet before the team left for Hangzhou.
“We have some tough opponents in our Pool, but we are confident in our preparation and hope to finish on the podium,” he added.
The team includes goalkeepers P R Sreejesh and Krishan Pathak.
Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Jarmanpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, and Sanjay are the defenders.
The midfield will be anchored by Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Sumit, and Shamsher Singh, while the attack is led by Abhishek, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Sukhjeet Singh, and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay.
Vice-captain Hardik Singh too was confident of the team doing well in the tournament.
“We have had some tough practice sessions in the lead-up to the tournament and everyone in camp is focused, working towards the same goal.
“We are in the best possible mental and physical shape to travel to Hangzhou, and we are looking forward to the tough competition in our group. The goal is to continue performing as well as we have in recent months and return from China with a medal.”
India meet Singapore, Japan and Pakistan on September 26, 28 and 30 respectively. They play their last group stage match against Bangladesh on October 2.