India’s chief coach Graham Reid wants his players to play at the highest level while taking on Russia in the upcoming FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers on November 1 and 2. Reid, who took over as chief in April this year, further added that he is impressed with the Indian hockey team’s all-round growth.
After winning the FIH Men’s Series Finals at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar in June, the Indian men’s hockey team followed it up with victories in the Tokyo Olympics test event in August and utter domination on its recent Belgium tour. India returned home having won all five matches — three of them against the world champions and hosts Belgium while the other two against world No 8 Spain. Now they look forward to taking on Russia in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers next month.
“We want to make sure that we are playing at our best, and there will be no complacency. It doesn't matter who we play, we will approach the game in the same manner, that is, in a professional and respectful way,” Reid told PTI.
Reid said that they have almost completed the “debriefing” in the Belgium tour and noted that there were plenty of good takeaways from their recent string of performances.
“Our GPS numbers were great, which means that the running, effort, speed and intensity was actually even higher than last year’s World Cup. Another part was the consistency of our performances against Belgium and Spain, and it was good to see that we kept building momentum as the tour progressed,” the chief coach explained.
“We’ve had a good week here in Bhubaneswar to determine what were the outcomes from that preparatory tour, and now is the time to continue working in that direction,” Reis said.
Against Russia, he expects a tough duel of tactics as the opposition is a team comfortable in possession. “There is always the concern about playing a team like Russia and it is, that they hold the ball very well, they like to be in possession. Trying to get the ball off them is always difficult, so that is something we need to keep an eye on and make sure that our tackling, interception and pressing skills are at the highest level,” Reid added.