October 19, 2019. That was when the Indian males’s junior hockey workforce final performed an international. They lost 1-2 to Great Britain in the ultimate of the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia.
Covid-19 meant the workforce had to wait one other two years, one month and 5 days—a timespan in which a technology can graduate to the senior stage—earlier than getting to play one other international, towards France in what was the junior World Cup opener in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday night.
The apparent indicators of rust was seen because the Vivek Sagar Prasad-led workforce lost 4-5 on the Kalinga Stadium. A hattrick from skipper Timothee Clement and a purpose every from Corentin Sellier and Benjamin Marque was sufficient to seal the match for a workforce that had not even certified for the final Junior World Cup 5 years in the past, towards a workforce that received it.
India’s recreation was not composed, they couldn’t full their lengthy passes however extra importantly let the French to penetrate their circle all through the 60-minute encounter.
A serious drawback brought on by no international competitors was the dearth of info and recreation structure of opposition groups. Also, video footage on the junior stage is just not simply accessible.
“That’s always the case with the junior group; you don’t get access to their videos either because it is not available or they haven’t played during the said period,” mentioned India chief coach Graham Reid, who took over the reins of this workforce quickly after the Tokyo Olympics. “But countries have a similar way of playing. So we showed clips of the French senior team, what specific type of things they engage in. That is the sort of preparation we have been doing.”
So how did India get across the lack of international competitors? The answer was to play matches towards the senior nationwide workforce.
Just just like the colts now, the Indian senior workforce was too out of match follow in the lead-up to the Olympics. It was Reid’s brainchild to make the senior workforce play towards the juniors. It helped that each have been attending lengthy nationwide camps at Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) centre in Bengaluru.
The coaching and follow video games proved useful as Manpreet Singh’s squad did what no different workforce had in the final 41 years—return house with an Olympic medal.
“The seniors played a number of games against the juniors during Olympic preparation which was invaluable to both squads and helped us get an understanding of the things we needed to work on before the Olympics,” mentioned Reid.
Reid determined to use the identical technique for the juniors. “Since we did not have overseas competition, the team played practice games against the seniors which were quite valuable,” he mentioned.
The two squads met a number of occasions, in Bengaluru and later in Bhubaneswar, over the previous couple of months. “They asked questions (from senior team), did a lot of learning on what it takes to perform at the highest level, they understand what is required but also got some belief from the way we performed in Tokyo,” mentioned the Australian.
Having educated with the colts for months, senior workforce skipper Manpreet Singh is assured that regardless of the loss, India will go deep in the event. “They actually beat us in one of the (practice) games. I am pretty confident they have the ability to reach the final,” mentioned Manpreet.
A penalty nook specialist, junior India vice-captain Sanjay spent hours choosing the brains of ace drag-flickers Harmanpreet Singh, who’s the present FIH Player of the Year, and Rupinder Pal Singh, who retired after the Olympics, discussing methods and structure over video evaluation conferences.
“They (seniors) used to share their experience of the Olympics. The penalty corner specialists of our team would discuss how to beat the first rusher or goalkeeper, how to take steps for the drag, how and when to release the ball with Harmanpreet and Rupinder. They taught us a lot, it was really helpful,” mentioned Sanjay.
Sanjay’s studying proved fruitful because the defender scored a hattrick towards France with Uttam Singh scoring India’s different purpose.
India will look to put their marketing campaign again on observe after they face Canada, who lost 0-1 to Poland earlier in the day, in their second Pool B recreation on Thursday.
In Pool A motion, 2016 runners-up Belgium thrashed South Africa 5-1 and Malaysia moved previous Chile 2-1. Six-time champions Germany hammered Pakistan 5-2 in Pool D.