India’s FIH Hockey Pro League Matches vs Spain, Germany in Europe Postponed


India’s upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League away fixtures against Spain and Germany later this month have been postponed due to the international travel restrictions imposed in the wake of surging COVID-19 cases in the Asian country, the world body (FIH) informed on Tuesday. The Indian men’s hockey team was scheduled to play against Spain on May 15 and 16, followed by the two-leg tie in Germany on May 23 and 24.

“FIH, Hockey India as well as the Hockey National Associations of Germany, Spain and Great Britain since the matches initially planned in London on 8-9 May were also postponed – are currently looking at all potential options to rearrange these matches at a later date,” the International Hockey Federation (FIH) said in a statement.

“On behalf of the global hockey community, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) would like to express its support and strong sympathy to the Indian hockey community, as well as their families and friends. At this very hard time for India, a country so much linked to the history as well as the current development of hockey, our thoughts are with all Indian people,” it added.

Last month, India’s FIH Hockey Pro League matches against Great Britain, scheduled for May 8-9 in London, were postponed following the UK government’s decision to add India to the travel ‘red list’ due to the surging COVID-19 cases there. With India recording more than 3 lakh COVID-19 cases and 3,000 deaths daily for quite some time now, most of the foreign countries, including Australia, Malaysia, Germany, Singapore, New Zealand, UK etc, have suspended international flights from the country.

India is currently fourth in the FIH Pro League standings with 15 points from eight matches behind Netherlands, Germany and leaders Belgium.

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Need to Work on Converting Chances into Goals Ahead of Tokyo Olympics: Lalit Upadhyay


Indian men’s hockey team forward Lalit Upadhyay feels that the players need to work on converting more chances into goals ahead of the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to open on July 23. In the recent Argentina tour, the Indian team scored 12 goals in four practice matches and five goals in two FIH Pro League games against the Olympic Champions, but Lalit said there is still room for improvement as nine goals came via penalty corners. “The matches against Argentina were high-scoring games and it’s never easy to convert field goals against a team like Argentina who are quite strong in their defence,” said Lalit, who scored in India’s 3-0 win against Argentina in the FIH Pro League tie.

“Over these last few months, we have really worked a lot on converting goals as well as creating penalty corners. We have also focused on how we must work our way into the circle from the 25m mark,” he added.

Lalit said the team can be a bit sharper while taking chances inside the circle.

“This is something we are focusing on during our on-going camp,” he said.

He said the team can win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics despite facing several challenges in the lead up to the Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All of us in the core group believe this (Tokyo Olympics) is our best shot at a medal and we continue to work towards that mission despite whatever challenges we may have to face in the lead up.

“Our focus will be on maintaining our fitness level, avoiding any injuries and we will be creating match scenarios in our practice sessions where we will work on different tactics,” he said.

Lalit emphasised that having a centralised training facility like the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre in Bengaluru has been a boon in these unprecedented times.

“We are truly lucky to be in a facility like SAI Centre, Bengaluru where our training goes on undisturbed, and we have the best facilities. We also have an exclusive gym now for hockey which has been very helpful,” he said.

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Covid-hit India May Not Send Team to Spain, Germany


Indian men's hockey team (Photo Credit: HI)

Indian men’s hockey team (Photo Credit: HI)

Indian men’s hockey team may not send for the FIH Hockey Pro League matches in Spain and Germany due to a spike in coronavirus in the country.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated:May 03, 2021, 21:31 IST
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The Indian men’s hockey team participation in the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League matches in Spain and Germany is doubtful due to a spike in coronavirus in the country, an official attached with the national team said on Monday.

“Since Germany has restricted travellers from India, as of now, due to a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country, it could be difficult to compete in the Hockey Pro League matches in Hamburg on May 22 and 23,” the official told IANS.

Last month, Great Britain had banned travellers from India due to a spike in Coronavirus cases. It forced the national men’s hockey team to cancel its tour to play FIH Hockey Pro League matches in London on May 8 and 9.

“To further help players polish their competitive skills, Hockey India was looking to send the team to Europe. The national squad was also supposed to compete in Spanish leg of FIH Hockey Pro League matches in Valencia on May 15 and 16. But that too looks doubtful now,” said the official.

Last month, the Indian team competed in the Argentina leg of FIH Hockey Pro League matches. The team played a series of practice matches against the 2016 Olympic champions on their home turf.

The core group of 33 players are currently training at the Sports Authority of India centre in Bengaluru.

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India to Open 2021-22 FIH Pro League Campaign against New Zealand on February 5


The Indian men’s hockey team will open its campaign in the third edition of FIH Pro League against New Zealand on February 5 next year as the world governing body released the schedule of the prestigious tournament.

India will also take on Australia and Spain in February as it plays five away matches that month before taking on Germany and Argentina at home.

After the match against the Black Sticks, India will take on Australia on February 12 and 13 before facing Spain (Feb 26 and 27). India will play against Germany (March 12, 13) and Argentina (March 19, 20) at home.

The next month, India will face England (April 2, 3) at home, followed by away games against Belgium (on June 11 and 12) and Netherlands (June 18 and 19) in a packed 2022 season.

“It (schedule) gives us an opportunity to plan our preparations well in advance. Though right now our focus is on doing well in Tokyo this July and peaking at the right time to succeed at the Olympic Games, we now know what needs to be done in the second half of the year,” said India skipper Manpreet Singh.”

“They (New Zealand and Australia) are always a very challenging team particularly at home and we are very excited about the prospects of starting our campaign against them,” he added.

India chief coach Graham Reid said his team looks forward to playing against the best teams in the world.

“We will begin our assault on the title with a trip to New Zealand and Australia in February 2022. These matches are always tough against tough competitors in what can be often very warm conditions during that time of the year,” Reid said.

The second season (2020-21) of the FIH Pro League is currently on with India scheduled to play against Spain and Germany later this month.

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Motivated Indian Men’s Hockey Team Can Finish on Podium at Tokyo Olympics: Vasudevan Baskaran


Indian men's hockey team (Photo Credit: IANS)

Indian men’s hockey team (Photo Credit: IANS)

Captain of the hockey team that won gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Vasudevan Baskaran, believes both the men’s and women’s teams are capable of finishing on the podium at the Tokyo Olympics.

  • IANS New Delhi
  • Last Updated:April 30, 2021, 22:45 IST
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Former India coach and captain of the hockey team that won gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Vasudevan Baskaran, believes both the men’s and women’s teams are capable of finishing on the podium at the Tokyo Olympics. “Indian teams (men’s and women’s) can finish on the podium in Tokyo. I have no doubt about it. The men’s team has been playing really well. My advice to them is to keep the confidence level up. Each player has come up the hard way to reach here. It would perhaps be the first Olympics for about seven-eight players, and I feel they shouldn’t just be happy with the ‘Olympian title (tag)’ but should aim for a medal. This is possible only when everybody in the team believes that they can be a medal-winning team and finish on the podium,” Baskaran said in a podcast series launched by Hockey India.

The Arjuna awardee, who last coached the India men’s team during the 2006 Asian Games in Doha and the World Cup in Monchengladbach (Germany), felt that the women’s team had “gained tremendous confidence since their previous outing at the 2016 Rio Olympics”.

The Rani Rampal-led team had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics by beating USA in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers.

“They (women’s team) must remain focused on finishing in the top-4. When I was playing at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, women’s hockey was included. Our team had missed the bronze narrowly. After seeing the current Indian women’s team, I feel they have developed a lot of confidence after (Rio) 2016. I saw them play live in Bhubaneswar when they beat USA, one of the best teams in the world. They rightfully earned the place in the Olympics,” said Baskaran.

“The team is on rise. I feel they are capable of doing well. They need to push themselves for the first-four position. I know Rani and team are capable of doing very well,” he said.

Hockey India had launched the podcast series, ‘Hockey Te Charcha’ on April 14, exactly 100 days ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

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Success in Argentina Has Given Indian Men’s Hockey Team New perspective: Vivek Sagar Prasad


The Indian hockey team’s recent tour of Argentina and the Europe tour in February, where they played Germany and Great Britain, has provided the side a fresh perspective in training, according to young midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad. The Manpreet Singh-led India team won both the FIH Pro Hockey League games against Olympic champions Argentina besides defeating them in two practice games. Earlier this year, the team registered a 6-1 win and a 1-1 draw against powerhouse Germany, which was followed by a win and a draw against Britain.

“These tours against world-class teams have given us a fresh perspective in our preparations for the Olympics. Based on the data received from these tours about our performance as a team and as individual players, we have been given specific tasks by chief coach Graham Reid to work on and improve. I feel, we are moving in the right direction ahead of the Olympics,” said Prasad.

Prasad said that the team’s discipline and commitment towards training all of last year, despite not playing competitive matches, is what has brought the difference in their recent successful outings.

“Last year, the way we worked as a unit has helped. We focussed on fitness, on setting up good connection between midfield and the forward-line, as well as work on keeping momentum high in the last quarter — all these things helped improve our performance.

“We created different scenarios in training and didn’t let the fact that we weren’t getting any competition due to the pandemic affect our moral or rhythm,” he said.

Having undergone mandatory quarantine after their return from Argentina, the core group will focus on their goals for the Olympics.

“We see what is happening around us and feel extremely fortunate to even be able to train under these circumstances and stay focused on our goal to do well in Tokyo,” he said.

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India-Great Britain Matches Postponed Following UK Travel Ban


Indian men's hockey team (Photo Credit: HI)

Indian men’s hockey team (Photo Credit: HI)

FIH Hockey Pro League matches between India and Great Britain which were to be played in London on May 8-9 were postponed.

  • PTI LAUSANNE
  • Last Updated:April 21, 2021, 12:52 IST
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The FIH Hockey Pro League matches between India and Great Britain, scheduled for May 8-9 in London, were on Wednesday postponed following the UK government’s decision to add India to the travel ‘red list’.

“FIH, Hockey India and Great Britain Hockey are monitoring the evolution of the situation in the hope of rearranging these matches at a later date,” a FIH release said.

India will still travel to Europe in May to play the Pro League matches against Spain (May 15-16) and Germany (May 22-23) while Great Britain will host Germany (May 12-13), USA (Women, May 22-23) and Spain (Men, May 22-23).

Australia and New Zealand are continuing their efforts to find a date for the matches between them following the announcement of a trans-Tasman travel bubble this week.

The UK government added India to its COVID-19 travel ‘red list’ on Monday. From April 23 onwards, UK residents arriving from India will have to quarantine in a hotel for 11 nights.

Others from India will not be able to travel to the UK at all. India have recorded a total of 2,95,041 fresh infections in the last 24 hours while the active cases crossed the 21-lakh mark.

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Argentina Tour Gave Us Chance to Access Our Level Ahead of Tokyo Olympics: Graham Reid


The Indian men’s hockey team chief coach Graham Reid on Tuesday said the recent tour to Argentina has been extremely beneficial as it provided him an opportunity to access the level of his side with three months remaining for the Tokyo Olympics.

India beat Argentina in both their FIH Pro League fixtures and also registered victories in two out of the four practice matches against the reigning Olympic champions.

“These matches in Argentina were extremely important for us to access the level we are at with lesser than 100 days to go for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“We also managed to get a few practice sessions in Buenos Aires and we are really grateful to the CAH (Confederaci n Argentina de Hockey) for their hospitality,” said Reid after the hockey core group returned to the national camp here on Tuesday.

The postponed Tokyo Olympics is scheduled to begin on July 23.

After completing their mandatory quarantine, the 22-member squad will join the remaining 11 members of the core probable group who remained in SAI, Bengaluru while the Indian team toured Argentina.

“After all the necessary protocols after our arrival, we will continue with our training with specific focus on the areas we feel can improve basis our performance in Argentina,” Reid added.

The 33-member core probable group: PR Sreejesh, Krishan B Pathak, Suraj Karkera, Birendra Lakra, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Gurinder Singh, Manpreet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit, Jaskaran Singh, Rajkumar Pal, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Shilanand Lakra, Kothajit Singh, Jarmanpreet Singh, Dipsan Tirkey, Nilam Sanjeep Xess, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Simranjeet Singh, Gursahibjit Singh and Gurjant Singh.

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Argentina Wins Gave Us Right Kind of Boost, Want to Use This Momentum Going into Tokyo Olympics: Krishan Pathak


One of the architects of India’s superb show against Argentina, young goalkeeper Krishan Pathak said he wants to be in top form for the Tokyo Olympics and is eyeing another superlative performance against Great Britain in the FIH Pro League games next month. The 23-year-old, who earned his 50th international cap during India’s tour of Argentina, played a big role in his side registering back-to-back wins against the reigning Olympic champions in the FIH Pro League this month.

“I am very happy to have completed fifty international caps. So much has happened in such a short space of time. I have had the opportunity to play in big tournaments and learnt a lot from my seniors,” said Pathak in a release issued by Hockey India. “The coaches have always believed in my talent. I want to continue working hard and win games for India. Reaching this milestone makes me proud,” he added. In the Argentina tour that conclude on Wednesday, India defeated the hosts in a two-leg FIH Pro League away tie.

While fellow custodian PR Sreejesh was brilliant when the visitors won the first match via a penalty shoot-out, Pathak was equally impressive during India’s 3-0 win over the hosts in the second game. “I got to learn a lot from the Argentina tour. I know I have to prove my worth as a goalkeeper every time I am playing,” said Pathak, who had earned the Player of the Match award after pulling off some great saves to maintain a clean sheet in the 2nd game.

“I feel we showed a lot of fight and character there. Over the past year, we’ve had good games against the top sides in the world and I feel that gives us the right kind of boost going into a tournament like the Olympics.” India will next play Great Britain in the FIH Pro League on May 8 and 9. “We have to be focussed on the job at hand right now. Hope our good form continues against Great Britain…,” Pathak said. With 15 points from eight games, India climbed to the fourth place in the FIH Hockey Pro League standings following their wins over Argentina. India, Argentina and Australia will play each other at the forthcoming Olympic Games, where they have been drawn in Pool A alongside Spain, New Zealand and home favourites Japan. “We have to make sure we’re ready for every challenge. The environment in the camp is good and we want to use this momentum going into a big summer,” Pathak said.

For much of his young career, Pathak has been Sreejesh’s understudy at goal and thinks the competition for places has only made him a better goalkeeper. “There’s so much one can learn from Sreejesh bhai. He’s been playing at the highest level for so many years,” he said. “I have improved as a keeper in the last four years and that is because of what I have gathered and learnt watching people like Sreejesh and others play and train on a daily basis.”

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Success in Argentina a Confidence Booster But Ultimate Goal Remains Olympic Podium: Manpreet Singh


Manpreet Singh (Photo Credit: IANS)

Manpreet Singh (Photo Credit: IANS)

The Indian men’s hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh considers the recent success against reigning Olympic champions Argentina a big confidence-booster, but insists that the team still needs to address some grey areas as it pursues a podium finish in Tokyo.

  • PTI Buenos Aires (Argentina)
  • Last Updated:April 15, 2021, 15:28 IST
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The Indian men’s hockey team skipper Manpreet Singh considers the recent success against reigning Olympic champions Argentina a big confidence-booster, but insists that the team still needs to address some grey areas as it pursues a podium finish in Tokyo. Eight-time champions India are looking to end an over four-decade-long Olympic medal drought in Tokyo this year. India had won last of their eight Olympic gold medals in the 1980 Moscow Games before the team endured a sharp slide in its fortunes. “No doubt winning against a really strong team like Argentina in their home ground is a big confidence booster, but we shouldn’t read too much into the results. “We need to keep our heads down and remain focused on the areas that require improvement on the basis of our performance here. Our task is not over until we stand on the podium in Tokyo,” Manpreet said in a statement issued by Hockey India.

In the Argentina tour that conclude on Wednesday, India defeated the hosts in a two-leg FIH Pro League away tie, besides registering two wins, one draw and a loss in the four practice matches.

“After the matches, we feel there are a few areas we need to improve upon. While we did well as a team to come back into the game even in the dying minutes of the match, we feel we could have started better,” Manpreet said. “Also playing consistently, keeping up the pressure on the opponents in all quarters is another area we need to work on.”

India are scheduled to play Great Britain in the FIH Pro League on May 8 and 9 in London followed by a double header against Spain in Valencia on May 15 and 16. After that, the Indians will play Germany in Hamburg on May 22 and 23.

“It was great to resume the FIH Hockey Pro League with 5 points from Argentina and we would like to keep this momentum going into the matches in Europe. These matches will surely be a litmus test for us before Tokyo,” Manpreet said.

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