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Tokyo 2020: Hockey: We are ready for Germany: Skipper Manpreet Singh

Tokyo, Aug 4: Indian men's hockey team will vie to bounce back from the semifinal loss to Belgium when they take on Germany in the Bronze Medal play-offs on Thursday.

In their recent tour to Europe in February this year, Indian team played Germany in two back-to-back matches where they were able to put to test all the hard work that went in during the National Camps in SAI, Bengaluru. This was India's first tour since 2020 when the pandemic restricted their travel, and in the first match India beat Germany 6-1 and in the second match they drew 1-1.

Germany, on the other hand, went on to play the Final of the EuroHockey Nations Championships in June this year. The German side drew 2-2 in regulation time against the Netherlands and had lost 1-4 in the penalty stroke.

In the Olympic Games so far, Germany registered four wins the Group Stage (7-1 against Canada, 5-1 against GB, 4-3 against South Africa and 3-1 against the Netherlands) and lost 1-3 to Belgium. In the quarterfinal they beat defending Olympic Champions Argentina 3-1 and lost 1-3 to Australia in the semifinal.

Whereas India finished top 2 in Pool A with four wins (3-2 against New Zealand, 3-0 against Spain, 3-1 against Argentina, 5-3 against Japan). They suffered one loss to Australia. In the quarterfinal, India beat Great Britain 3-1 and lost 2-5 to Belgium in the semifinal.

"I think we should just forget about what happened in the semifinal and just put all our focus and energy into the game against Germany. The team has the experience of playing them in recent times. We are ready for the challenge," said Manpreet Singh on the eve of the Bronze medal play-off.

He further stated, "We have the entire country's support. We even had the Hono'ble Prime Minister call us and wish us after the semifinal loss. He asked us to not feel disappointed and just look forward to playing well on Thursday and that's what we plan to do. We are pumped up for the game."

Chief Coach Graham Reid, meanwhile, introspected on the Belgium match and expressed that the team paid the prize for not converting opportunities early in the game.

"At 2-1, we created a lot of opportunities, and really we should have converted. We couldn't get that scoreboard pressure to go to 3-1. When it was 2-2 also, we had the opportunity to go 3-2. The number of opportunities at that time, we didn't get that scoreboard pressure back on Belgium. There were a few periods of play when we lost the ball and they scored, and we spiralled a little bit after that. I think we paid the prize of not getting that scoreboard pressure back onto them when we could have," rued Reid.

But he said the team will make amends to their game when they face-off with Germany in the Bronze Medal match. He said, "As far as Germany is concerned, players are keen to make amends for yesterday (Tuesday), they are aware the Bronze medal is up for grabs. Mentally we are in the right space, and we will be working harder. We will be making sure all our T's are crossed for the games against Germany."

On Thursday, 5 August, India takes on Germany at 7:00 am in the Bronze Medal Play-off Match.

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Story first published: Wednesday, August 4, 2021, 15:11 [IST]
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