Bengaluru: The Indian men’s hockey team left for Hangzhou from Bengaluru airport on Tuesday to participate in the 19th Asian Games. India will start its campaign with this important match against Uzbekistan on 24th September. India has been placed in Pool A along with Pakistan, Japan, Bangladesh, Singapore and Uzbekistan. Pool B includes Korea, Malaysia, China, Oman, Thailand and Indonesia.
The top two teams from each pool will qualify for the semi-finals. Charismatic defender Harmanpreet Singh has once again been tasked with leading the team, while Hardik will be his deputy. But before leaving for Hangzhou, captain Harmanpreet said, ‘We are confident of our preparation and hope to finish on the podium. But will reach. The team is preparing hard for the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022, and we have performed well in the recently concluded Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023, so the target is to maintain that level of performance. We have some tough opponents in our pool. But we are confident in our preparation.
The team includes goalkeepers PR Sreejesh and Krishna Pathak. Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Jarmanpreet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh and Sanjay are the defenders selected for the Asian Games. The midfield will be commanded by Neelkanth Sharma, Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Sumit and Shamsher Singh, while the attack will be led by Abhishek, Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Sukhjit Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay.
Before leaving for Hangzhou, vice-captain Hardaki expressed optimism, saying, ‘We have had some hard practice sessions in preparation for the tournament and everyone in the camp is working focused towards the same goal.’ ‘We are in the best mental and physical condition to travel to Hangzhou,’ he concluded, ‘and we are looking forward to the tough competition in our group. Our aim is to continue our good performance in recent months and return from China with a medal.’India will face Uzbekistan on September 24 before taking on Singapore, Japan and Pakistan on September 26, 28 and 30 respectively. They will play their last group stage match against Bangladesh on October 2.