Indian men's hockey team gears up for European leg, focus on Asian Games

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The Asian Games, an Olympic qualifying event, will be the focus of the Indian men's hockey team, according to captain Harmanpreet Singh, when they begin their European trip for FIH Pro Hockey League on May 26. For the first phase of the European tour, the team headed for London on Monday.

There, it will take on the defending Olympic champions, Belgium, on May 26 and June 2 and the hosts, Great Britain, on May 27 and June 3.  After that, they will fly to Eindhoven for their final two sets of games against Argentina (June 8 and 11) and the Netherlands (June 7 and 10).

India presently is atop the Pro League standings after eight games and 19 points, dominating the nine-team competition. The United Kingdom also has the same number of points, but due to a worse goal difference, they are ranked second. 

"We have very crucial matches coming up as we get to the business end of the Pro League season. We are in a strong position in the table so far and we will look to get as many points as possible in the remaining matches. 

"We are excited about this tour as it also gives us a great opportunity to play against quality teams. These matches will be really important for us as we prepare for the all-important Asian Games scheduled later this year," said Harmanpreet before the team's departure to London.

India finished first in the points standings by remaining undefeated against the defending world champions, Germany, and Australia. 

The team's first game under new head coach Craig Fulton will be this one. 

"We have had good intensive training sessions at the national coaching camp in SAI centre, Bengaluru. The preparations have been really good, and our previous matches in Rourkela were a big confidence booster for us, so we will look to replicate the performance in the upcoming matches," the skipper said. 

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