India can defend Junior Hockey World Cup at Bhubaneswar: Coach

Mumbai: Despite lack of match practice, no exposure tournaments and disrupted preparations due to Covid-19, Indian hockey senior team coach, Graham Reid, who is also guiding the juniors, is confident the side will be able to defend the title they won in 2016 when they take the field in the Junior World Cup at Bhubaneswar from November 24.

The reason for his confidence is the information he gleaned during their matches with the senior team. Also, all teams in the fray will be in the same boat for the Junior World Cup as their preparations too have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and none of them know much about other teams.

Reid said the situation is just like the one the Indian senior team faced before the Tokyo Olympic Games but went on to win a bronze medal.

“No one has any idea (what the opposition looks like) and if you ask any of the coaches they will also say that we have no idea of what the opposition is like. It was the same before the Tokyo Olympics as we did not have much idea about the other teams and therefore we decided to concentrate on things that were in our hands. We have done the same with the junior team too,” he said during a virtual press conference from Bhubaneswar on Friday.

The junior team has played many matches with the senior team during their preparations for the Olympics and are doing the same before the Junior World Cup and Reid said their performance in those matches gives him the confidence that they can defend the title that Harendra Singh’s team won at Lucknow in 2016.

“The games with the senior team have given us a good account of their abilities and I a confident that they would be able to defend their title,” Reid said.

Reid, who has started coaching this squad in the last month or so, said it was not much difficult for him to adapt to the junior team from the senior as their preparations too are following the same pattern of coaching under junior team’s coach BJ Kariappa and his assistants.

“Kariyappa and other coaches have done a great job and as the boys have been there at Bangalore since before the Olympics, I have a fair idea of their abilities and preparations. So, it will not be much difficult to get in with the junior team after coaching the senior one,” Reid said.

Reid will be with the team like the high-performance director with Kariyappa as the coach. The arrangement looks similar to the one that was in place for the 2016 Junior World Cup with Roelant Oltmans as the high-performance director and Harendra Singh as the coach.

About India’s preliminary round group which includes France, Canada, and Poland, Reid said things will not be easy as there is not much video footage available of those players and therefore the team will have to work on its own improvement rather than plan about the opponents.

“We did have some footage from the Pro League before the Olympics. But for the Under-21 players, we don’t have such a thing. We do have some information regarding the general style of play of the national team. So, we have decided to work on our game rather than think about the opponents,” said Reid.

India will start its Junior World Cup campaign against France on November 24.


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