The Indian Men’s Hockey team have been very successful in recent times having won the historic bronze at the Tokyo Olympics and the silver at the Commonwealth Games. They are now focused on the upcoming World Cup which will be held in India early next year. Ahead of the major event, Indian midfielder Nilakanta Sharma feels that the team should focus on defending and not conceding early goals.
The Men in Blue’s Commonwealth Games campaign ended in a disappointing 7-0 demolition at the hands of the mighty Australia. Therefore dampening the morale of the players who finished with the silver medals in Birmingham. The Graham Reid coached side conceded five goals in the first half itself in that match. Therefore Nilakanta’s concerns cannot be taken lightly.
“We have been going through the videotapes of our matches in CWG ever since the camp started and we have been working to make sure that we don’t concede any early goals,” Nilkanata said in a media release.
He shared how a strong start is very important as it lays the platform for the team to build on it. “If we start strong, we can go on to build on our performance throughout the game.”
In the quadrennial event, India are in pool D along with England, Spain, and Wales. They begin their campaign in Rourkela on the opening day against Spain on January 13.
The midfielder has shared that they are going to face all quality sides in the big event and they dont want to feel like they did not give their best after the match gets over. “We have to face quite a few strong sides in the group stage of the World Cup and we don’t want to end up feeling like we haven’t performed our best at the end, so a good start is crucial for a good showing on home turf,” Nilakanta stated.
He shared how the main aim is to win a medal at the World Cup and anything less than that will not suffice. He wants the team to focus right from the group stages as they will face many strong teams and things will only get tougher for them in the knockouts. “Our aim at the World Cup is to get a medal, no matter what. We hope to qualify for the knockouts comfortably even though we face strong teams in the group stage and then focus on getting results against any team that stands in our way,” Nilakanta Sharma opined.
Ahead of the quadrennial tournament the Indian team will be facing New Zealand and Spain in the FIH Hockey Pro League. This time the World Cup will be in Rourkela and Bhubaneswar and India will have the advantage of playing in front of their fans.