India will have to play aggressively against Great Britain in men's hockey quarter-finals: Coach Reid
New Delhi, July 31, 2021
Indian hockey is at the crossroads.
After 41 years, India gets a chance to make it to the last four of the Olympics men's hockey competition as they take on Great Britain in the quarter-finals in Tokyo on Sunday.
Great Britain finished third -- with two wins, two draws and a loss -- in their Pool B league. They have one Olympic title to their credit which they won in 1988 at Seoul. India finished second in Pool A.
Coach Graham Reid exuded confidence in the Manpreet Singh-led team's ability to get the better of their opponents on Sunday.
"To be honest, facing any of the four European teams who have come directly from the Euro Championships was always going to be a difficult quarter-final game, but I think it really matters which one you get," he said.
"But, probably, Great Britain are the ones we are comfortable with and very confident with. I think if we play the way we know that we can, then definitely victory is possible," Reid said.
The Indian coach said he was satisfied with the way his team has performed. "I think we are reasonably happy with how things have gone. Friday's game against Japan was really about trying to increase the tempo so that we can be hitting our straps during the quarter-finals. Objective was really to be playing at that level.
"I think Japan played very well, I thought we played a higher, faster tempo. That's what we are going to need to have to play against Great Britain," said the 56-year-old Australian.
Barring the disappointment against Australia (1-7) in their second game in the Pool A matches, India did well to finish second in their pool with substantial wins against New Zealand (3-2), Spain (3-0), Argentina (3-1) and Japan (5-3).
Reid believes India will need to carry forward the momentum from these wins into the quarter-finals. "When you look at our performances in the last four-five games, apart from the Australian one which was a really disappointing result, the rest have been about building performance levels."
In their most recent tour of Europe in March this year, India had faced off with Great Britain in two games where they drew 1-1 in the first game and beat Great Britain 3-2 in the second.
Skipper Manpreet Singh said, "It was good to play Great Britain in Europe which helped us gain better understanding of how this team has been playing in recent times.
"But they can be a dark horse at the Olympics, and we really need to play our A Game against them."
"It was pleasing to score three field goals in the match against Japan. We were creating opportunities in the previous matches, but we were not converting, so it was nice to do that on Friday.
"I think we have been doing well with the penalty corners. Again, I want to reiterate that we need to do well in all departments to get the better of Great Britain. We have been building our momentum and obviously tomorrow night we need to continue that," he added.