Hockey Olympics: Indian Captains Manpreet, Rani confident of podium finish

Harpal Singh Bedi

New Delhi: Ace midfielder Manpreet Singh and versatile striker Rani Rampaul   have exuded confidence  that   given  spirited displays since the resumption of the international calendar,  both Men’s and women’s  sides can finish on the podium during the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

On current form, Indian men’s  side led by  Manpreet’s side. looks favourite for a medal .The  side is  a good mix of youth and experience in their ranks and have picked up from where they left last year in the FIH Hockey Pro League. 

They have been in fine form during the ongoing tour of Argentina and were unbeaten in the double-header FIH Hockey Pro League tie against the Olympic Champions over the weekend. 

Talking to Hockey India, Manpreet said ‘“Firstly, it was good to be back playing international hockey after a long time,I’m very happy with the progress of the team over the last 18 months. If we continue to build on this, I am sure we can defeat any team. 

“The team spirit is high right now and as I said before, we should use every opportunity we get before the Tokyo Olympics to fine-tune our game. The youngsters in the team have come a long way. I’m hoping this form continues and we put a much better display than what we’d managed in the Rio Olympics,” he  added.

The tour of Europe at the start of the year also went to plan for Chief Coach Graham Reid. Under the Australian, India has a new-found solidity. World Champions Belgium, Australia and Netherlands too, got a taste of it during the FIH Pro League last year. India’s opponents in Group A in the Tokyo Olympics include hosts Japan, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and Spain.

Women’s team have been steadily improving with every tournament. Rani led  side  had secured qualification for the Tokyo Olympics back in 2019. For the first time in history, they  will be playing in back-to-back Olympic events. While Rio Olympics 2016 was a steep learning curve, the current outfit under Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne are no pushovers.

“I am happy with the fight our team showed against Argentina and Germany earlier this year,” Rani said. “Of course, we’re disappointed to have not registered a win, but we have showed that we could hold our own against higher-ranked opponents.

 Since coming back from Germany, we have been working hard on our finishing and our technique. I feel we have come a long way from a tactical standpoint. I’m confident that once we convert these good performances into results, we will be in the mix for an Olympic medal too.”

Despite not getting a win under their belt, the Women’s Team put in a string of spirited displays against World No 2 Argentina and  Germany earlier this year. Their opponents in Group A of the Tokyo Olympics include Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands and South Africa.

HSB

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