India struggles to cope with pressure in Asian Cup opening match against Pakistan’s main rival

The second line of the Indian men’s hockey team will have to deal tactfully with the pressure when it will open its title defense against Pakistan’s main rivals here on Monday in the Asian Cup.

While Pakistan has put several new faces into the tournament, India will be represented by its “A” team led by veteran Birendra Lakr, who retired after the Tokyo Olympics.

For India, the Asian Cup provides a platform to test strength on the bench before the busy season, which includes the Commonwealth Games and next year’s FIH World Cup, for which Tokyo Olympic medalists have already qualified as a host country.

Pakistan, on the other hand, is looking at a tournament to beat the 2023 World Championships in Bhubaneswar. The top three teams in Asia qualify directly for the January show.

Both India and Pakistan have won the Asian Cup three times.

India won the last year in 2017, beating Malaysia in the final in Dhaka.

India’s 20-man squadron to train former captain Sardar Singh was originally to be led by Tokyo’s bronze Olympic medalist Rupinder Pal Singh, who also retired, but his wrist injury ruled him out of the tournament.

There is another veteran on the Indian team in SV Sunil who has also returned from retirement and is considered a live player on the pitch.

Sunil, who missed a lineup at the Tokyo Olympics due to injuries, will act as Lakra’s deputy.

The Indian team has up to 10 players ready for their senior debut in India, including Yashdeep Siwach, Abhisek Lakra, Manjeet, Vishnukant Singh and Uttam Singh. All were part of the Junior World Cup.

In addition, the party has new players such as Mareeswaren Sakthivel, Sheshe Gowda BM, Pawan Rajbhar, Abharan Sudev and S Karthi, and we will see how Sardar gets the best out of these youngsters.

The new players know that a good start in the Asian Cup can open the doors of the Commonwealth Games team, as the national team and head coach Graham Reid will follow the process closely.

For India, Simranjeet Singh, who was part of the squadron at the Tokyo Olympics, will return to the position of striker after a long break due to injury.

But the burden would be on a handful of seniors to guide young people in conflict.

“There is always pressure (in the Pakistani match). Every match against Pakistan is always a fee. But since we’re older, if we’re too excited, junior players can come under pressure. So we have to take it as a normal match, “said India’s Vice Captain Sunil.

“It’s not an easy tournament, but if we play according to our plan, we can win. We need to motivate young people, lead them and take them with us. So there are big responsibilities on our shoulders. ”Pakistan will approach the tournament after a mixed tour of Europe led by new coach Siegfried Aikman, where the team played five matches – two against the Netherlands and Spain and one against Belgium – of which they won two.

Since both teams have youngsters, we will see how the players on the lawn control their emotions and mood.

After Pakistan, India will present itself in the second Group A match with Japan on Tuesday and will host Indonesia on May 26.

Malaysia, Korea, Oman and Bangladesh are Group B clubs.

In the last matches of the first day, Malaysia will meet Oman and South Korea will compete in Group B with Bangladesh, while Japan will meet Indonesia in Group A.

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Ferdinand Medina

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