India hockey team chief coach Graham Reid believes taking part in the FIH Pro League, where he will have 32-33 player squad will help him try out different combinations and finalise his Olympic squad. India came out 11-3 winners against Russia on aggregate in their Olympic qualifier matches.
The Indian hockey team proved themselves too good for Russia, as they came out 7-1 winners in the 2nd Olympic qualifier on Saturday at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar as India booked a spot the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with an aggregate total of 11-3 after the two qualifying matches.
India will participate in the nine-team FIH Pro League tournament in which they will compete against some of the top teams in the world, including current Pro League Champions Australia, Olympics Champions Argentina, and World Champions Belgium. With the tournament set to begin from January, India chief coach Graham Reid sees it as an opportunity to build up his squad for the Olympics.
“Pro League is a great opportunity. We have a squad of 32-33 players for the tournament. We will get a chance to give opportunities to try a number of players. It will help us to work out our Olympics squad. There are a lot of games to be played during this period. If all of them play all of these games, then they won’t be in the best shape for the Olympics. So we now need to plan it all,” Reid said to the Hindustan Times.
He further added that the Pro League helps the Indian team in knowing their competition schedule after Christmas.
“One of the things the Pro League does is to set our competition schedule for us from here on to the Olympics. We will have a three-week training session in November. This will be a rehash of all that has happened in the qualifiers. Then we will have a much better idea of what we plan on bringing to the table after Christmas,” he said.
Pro League is set to begin in January and will run till June. With nine months to go for the Olympics, India coach Graham Reid was quick to recognise the areas where the side needs to improve in the buildup to the big event.
“For me, we need to get better at finishing, in goal shooting and goal scoring. We are creating more opportunities, which is great. Now we need to start getting a little bit more return. We also need to be working on our deep defence. We need to get tighter. We are giving too many opportunities to the opposition.”