Bengaluru: Defending champion Indian men’s hockey team left for Jakarta on Friday to compete in the Asia Cup hockey tournament. The team is being captained by Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Birendra Lakra.
The strong Indian team is in Pool A, along with Japan, Pakistan, and hosts Indonesia. Meanwhile, four teams—Malaysia, Korea, Oman, and Bangladesh—are grouped in Pool B.
India will start its campaign against arch-rival Pakistan on Monday. At the outset, team India is far superior to its neighbour. In recent times, India has outclassed Pakistan on several occasions. But every game is full of uncertainty, and there is no need to be overconfident.
“The team is definitely excited.” “The Asia Cup is a very prestigious tournament and we will have quite a few players who will be experiencing this tournament for the first time, so naturally the mood is quite upbeat in the team,” Birendra said in a Hockey India release.
“Our camp in SAI Bengaluru was quite tough and very fruitful. While we got to know more about each player’s strengths, and improved our on-field communication, Sardar (coach) was also very particular about our fitness.
Reflecting on his team’s prospects this year, Lakra said, “We just want to take it one match at a time.” Definitely, there will be a lot of tense nerves ahead of the first match against Pakistan, but we will focus on our own game and get on from there. “
In the last edition of the Asia Cup hockey tournament, India defeated Malaysia in the final to win the tournament.