(Image source from: Mid-Day)
The 2018 Men's Hockey World Cup kicked off in Bhubaneshwar on Wednesday and the coach has not squandered the chance to manifest his confidence on the Indian team.
Hockey coach Harendra Singh said: "It's a team that can create history". India will take on South Africa in their opener and the coach expect that his side will open their campaign with a victory.
"I know that first match is important in every tournament. The win releases 40 to 50 percent of pressure. We are thinking on the same lines. We want full points in the first match tomorrow. But for points, we can't forget/sacrifice the basics of hockey, the strategy." he said.
Further elaborating he said "I expect their (SA) strikers will try to break us. But we have strategies in place. It's mixed results so far for us (this year). We won’t compromise on playing attacking hockey against any team. We want to think ahead of the opponents."
He did not agree with a question that team is inexperienced saying "It's a team that can create history. You have to have patience. Selectors have considered these players good enough to wear India colors, be proud of it. Every player in the team understands it."
Asked how he fancied his team's chances, he said "Did anyone think Ireland will reach women's WC final and Croatia make it to FIFA WC final. Every team works on their strategy. It’s about that particular day."
He evidently did not like a question on defeat in the Asian Games saying, "The hard fact is all of us have forgotten Asian Games defeat and you should also forget. We learn from history, gain experience but there is no point recalling it. We don’t even talk about it now in our meetings."
Asked about the format of this world cup, where there is a long gap between team's matches, he replied "to be frank as a coach I support this format. Hockey is a fast game, result oriented, highly demanding. Unfortunately, earlier we used to play the next match in 24 hours. Whenever it used to happen, we never got the desired result. It helps to bring the team into the renewed mood. You come back with a fresh mind and legs. You can play at the same intensity, the margin of error reduces."
South African coach Mark Hopkins opined "It's an opportunity for us to showcase our skills. I think the pressure is on both sides. Being the host nation there is more pressure on India than us. We will just go out there and play the brand of hockey that is successful for us."
"We are a proud sporting nation and as a group, we are looking to create history. The goal for us is to finish the tournament as the most successful South African hockey team in the men's World Cup," he said.
The opening ceremony of the 14th Men's Hockey World Cup has nicely set up the tournament proper to begin in the Odisha capital on Wednesday after it was declared open by chief minister Naveen Patnaik.