Indian hockey star Akashdeep Singh feels that the recent tours to Europe and Argentina have helped them analyze their level against tough opponents. The Indian men's hockey team is backed to break a 40-year jinx and win an Olympic medal for the first time since the 1980 Moscow Games.
Experienced India striker Akashdeep Singh is unperturbed about not getting international tours due to the travel restrictions ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. He feels, the intra-squad matches played by the Indian Men's Hockey Core Probable group where the team attempts to replicate the same high-intense 60-minute international matches is making up for the missed opportunity.
He put things in perspective and explained, "We are not letting it (no tours) play on our minds. Many teams have faced similar situation where tours or matches have been cancelled due to the pandemic situation and we are not the only ones. But I do feel the Indian team was fortunate to get some exposure in Europe and Argentina where some really good matches were played and we could analyze the level we are at against really tough opponents."
"With no international matches scheduled for now, in every training session and intra-squad matches we play every week, there is an expectation to bring out our best and push each other to improve. I feel these intra-squad matches every week brings out the best in us," added the Arjuna Awardee.
Akashdeep also opines that the final team selection for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will hinge on how players are performing each day in training sessions. "I feel this period is extremely crucial for the players in the core group. We understand that our final selection into the 16-member squad will not just depend on how we have done in the previous tours, but it will also depend on how we are performing in each training session. I feel this also brings out healthy competition within the core group, at the same time we have also inculcated a great sense of 'team comes first' attitude," says Akashdeep.
With India's rich history at the Olympic Games, Akashdeep says every player has a deep feeling of pride and their aim at this Olympic is to end the medal-drought for hockey. "Today (26 May) happens to be the day when India first won the Gold Medal at the Olympics in 1928. What followed after that was a complete domination by Indian Men's Hockey Team at the Olympics. I strongly believe the current set of players have the ability to win a medal at the Olympics," he concluded.