A timely match against quality rivals, and working on their tactical skills will be high on the agenda of the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams as they resume their FIH Pro League campaign against Belgium on Saturday as a precursor to the Commonwealth Games.
While the Indian men’s team is scheduled to play Belgium (11 June and 12 June), followed by matches against the Netherlands (18 June and 19 June in Rotterdam), the women will play against Belgium (11 June and 12 June) and Argentina (18 June and 19 June in Rotterdam). June 19) and the United States (June 21 and June 22).
🚨 Limited time offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2 per day Click here to subscribe 🚨
For Indian women, these matches are of even greater significance ahead of the FIH Women’s World Cup which Spain and the Netherlands jointly host from July 1-17.
The best of Express Premium
The Indian men are currently second in the league standings with 27 points from 12 matches, well ahead of Belgium, who have the same number of points but occupy less than the goal difference.
Therefore, there is hardly anything that separates India and Belgium.
For India, successive matches will provide them with an opportunity to regain the top spot in the league, which Holland took away with 28 points from 10 matches.
Besides making a mark in the professional league, the matches will also provide valuable match time for both national teams ahead of the Birmingham Games, scheduled from 28 July to 8 August.
With all eyes on the podium at this year’s Birmingham Games, top men’s and women’s hockey coaches Graham Reed and Janica Schopman have already insisted they look to the European stage of the league for better tactical insights into their team.
“With just under two months away for CWG, we will be using this time to ensure we are better prepared for the prestigious event. The Pro League matches will give us insight into areas that require improvement ahead of CWG,” said Indian men’s team president Reed.
Schopman, Reed’s women’s counterpart, added: “The next few weeks will definitely be challenging and exciting because we play regular matches in June and July before the CWG meeting.
“The back-to-back Pro League matches will certainly give us an understanding of how players’ bodies react to recovering and preparing for a match within 24 hours.” The Indian men sent a strong 20-man squad for the European residence under Amit Rohidas.
Veteran guardian PR Srejesh and Cheb Suraj Karkera will defend the squad, along with defenders Surinder Kumar, Haranpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Gujraj Singh and Jarmanpreet Singh.
The center of the field houses the captain of the bronze medal winning team at the Tokyo Olympics, Manpreet Singh, Hardik Singh, Shamsheer Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Akashdeep Singh and Neelakanta Sharma, while the goal-scoring burden will be on Gurgant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Shelanand Lakra and Sukjit. . Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Abhishek.
Meanwhile, the 24-member women’s team will lead goalkeeper Savita with defender Deep Grace Eka as her deputy.
The squad also features junior World Cup stars such as Bichu Devi Khribam, Ishika Choudhury, Akshata Abasu Dhekali, Baljit Kaur, Sangeeta Kumari and Deepika, while veteran striker Rani Rampal is set to return to action after her last appearance at the Tokyo Olympics. She was on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury.
The back line will also feature Georgette Kaur, Nikki Pradhan and Odita.
Nisha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Neha, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur, Sonika, Salima Tete and Baljeet Kaur will keep the midfield together, while the striking force will experience Vandana Katariya leading the attack alongside Lalrems Miami, Navneet Kaur and Sharmila Devi, Sangeeta Kumari, Deepika and Rani.
The return matches will be played on Sunday.