Tokyo, July 31 : The Manpreet Singh-led Indian men’s hockey team will aim to get past Great Britain in the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games on Sunday and secure a last-four berth, which has eluded them since the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games where the team led by V. Baskaran had won the eighth gold medal for the country.
India chief coach Graham Reid expressed confidence in his team’s ability to get the better of their opponents on Sunday, saying, “To be honest, facing any of the four European teams who have come directly from the Euro Championships was always going to be a difficult quarterfinal game, but I think it really matters on which one you get. But probably Great Britain are the ones we are comfortable with and very confident with. I think if we play the way we know that we can, then definitely victory is possible.”
Great Britain qualified for the quarterfinals on the back of two wins, two draws and a loss in their Pool B encounters.
Barring the disappointment against Australia (1-7) in their second game in Pool A, India did well to finish second in their group with wins against New Zealand (3-2), Spain (3-0), Argentina (3-1) and Japan (5-3).
Reid believes India will need to carry forward the momentum from these wins into the quarterfinals. “When you look at our performances in the last four-five games, apart from the Australian one which was really a disappointing result, the rest have been about building performance levels.
“I think we are reasonably happy with how things have gone. Friday’s game against Japan was really about trying to increase the tempo so that we can be hitting our straps during the quarterfinals. Objective was really to be playing at that level. I think Japan played very well, I thought we played a higher, faster tempo. That’s what we are going to need to have to play against Great Britain,” added the 56-year-old Australian.
In their most recent tour of Europe in March this year, India had faced off with Great Britain in two games where they drew 1-1 in the first game and beat them 3-2 in the second. India skipper Manpreet Singh, however, did not read too much into those results and said, “It was good to play Great Britain in Europe which helped us gain better understanding of how this team has been playing in recent times. But they can be a dark horse at the Olympics, and we really need to play our ‘A’ game against them.”
He added, “It was pleasing to score three field goals in the match against Japan. We were creating opportunities in the previous matches, but we were not converting, so it was nice to do that on Friday. I think we have been doing well with the PCs. Again, I want to reiterate that we need to do well in all departments to get the better of Great Britain. We have been building our momentum and obviously tomorrow night we need to continue that.”