Indian hockey team needs to make necessary adjustments before Olympics

The Indian men’s hockey team, under the guidance of chief coach Craig Fulton, has shown flashes of brilliance in the FIH Pro League. However, they have also struggled to maintain consistency and have had some disappointing results, such as their recent loss to Great Britain after squandering a lead.

The Pro League season has been a mixed bag for India, with five wins and losses each, as well as three shootout wins and defeats. While the team has shown promise with victories over strong opponents like Germany, Argentina, Spain, and Ireland, they have also faced setbacks against top-ranked teams like Australia, Belgium, and Great Britain.

According to Shane McLeod, who led Belgium to gold at the 2018 World Cup and 2021 Tokyo Olympics, India is currently operating at around 80% of their full potential. As the team gets closer to the Olympics, strengths like penalty corners and counterattacks are expected to come into play more consistently.

One area of concern for India is their defensive lapses, particularly during penalty corners where they have conceded 35 goals in 16 matches. While players like Amit Rohidas and Manpreet Singh have shown determination in their defensive efforts, improvements are needed to shore up the defense before the Olympics.

While captain Harmanpreet Singh has been a standout performer for India as a drag-flicker, the team is looking to bolster their second penalty corner battery to provide more options. Despite this, experts like Sjoerd Marijne believe that India can adapt and excel with the talent they have in their forward line.

With less than 50 days until the Olympics, Fulton and his coaching staff will be working on fine-tuning the team’s performance and addressing key areas of improvement. The focus will be on tightening up defensive play, improving penalty corner efficiency, and maximizing the potential of the forward line. India will be aiming to make a strong statement when they kick off their Games campaign against New Zealand on July 27.

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