Bengaluru: With three months to go for the Asian Champions Trophy in Chennai, there is an air of excitement among the members of the Indian Men’s Hockey Team who are eager to play on home turf again.
This will be the seventh edition of the coveted Asian Champions Trophy and it is scheduled to be held from August 3 to 12 serving as a precursor to the Hangzhou Asian Games in September.
Barring playing Japan at home at the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela, it’s been a while since India took on Asian giants on the home turf, particularly in South India where international hockey is returning after a gap of 16 years.
“It will be quite a thrilling experience not just for us but also for the spectators. I am hopeful all the hockey fans will turn up in big numbers again to watch us play against some of our top rivals in the Asian continent,” expressed Harmanpreet Singh on the sidelines of their training session in SAI, Bengaluru.
The team is currently preparing for the European leg of the FIH Hockey Pro League under newly-appointed Chief Coach Craig Fulton.
“We had our first meeting with new Chief Coach Craig Fulton on Saturday morning. He brings great energy to every session and has a well-structured plan for us this year. We have good momentum right now, having done well in the home games of the Pro League. The idea is to go into the European leg with the same confidence,” he said.
“We will have a good 45 days to prepare for the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023 after we return from the Pro League. Doing well in the Asian Champions Trophy at home will definitely set us up for a good show in the Asian Games. We are thankful to the Tamil Nadu government for extending their support and hosting this mega event in Chennai,” added Harmanpreet.
While the team continues to improve on their shortcomings, they have also added new success mantras to their routine.
“Since this is going to be a tough year with back-to-back events, we are working on keeping ourselves fresh mentally and physically. Yoga has been added to our weekly routine and it has
helped a great deal in channelizing our focus and has done a world of good to our flexibility as well,” added the skipper who is leading the chart for maximum goals in the ongoing Pro League.
The Indian Men’s Team won the Asian Champions Trophy Title in the inaugural edition held in 2011 and beat Pakistan in the Final to win the Title in 2016. In the following edition in 2018, India were joint winners with Pakistan after rain affected the proceedings of the Final held in Muscat. In the previous edition in 2021 held in Dhaka, the Indian Team finished the campaign with a Bronze Medal.