India begin Asian Games tune-up against China in Asian Champions Trophy | Hockey News – Times of India


CHENNAI: This is where the journey begins. World No. 4 India have earned their stripes as an Asian powerhouse with their consistent results and the sheer volume of top-flight match exposure in the recent past, but when it comes to the Olympic dream, qualification is never a walk in the park.

The Hangzhou Asian Games offer a golden opportunity to avoid going through qualifiers, and India will leave no stone unturned to try and come up trumps there.

TheAsian Champions Trophy thus serves as an apt way to gauge their preparations, and as skipper Harmanpreet Singh said, will be a “litmus test” of where they stand
among the top six Asian teams.
That the tournament is being held on home soil means there will be no dearth of support, but at the same time there will no let-up in expectations either, as Chennai gets to witness the Indian team in action after an interlude of 16 years.

They are up against China first up, a team that is largely an unknown quantity and last played a major international tournament in 2018 – the World Cup in Bhubaneswar. The Chinese side is ranked 25th in the world and lacks pedigree and experience, but that doesn’t mean that India can take them for granted. Harmanpreet acknowledged as much.

“In tournaments like these, no team can be taken lightly. We are looking forward to these matches and see where we stand when we play the Asian Games,” the ace drag-flicker said.

In addition to marshalling his troops, Harmanpreet will have a major job at hand as one of the biggest match-winners for his team. Always a player to keep an eye on, the Indian skipper has been in excellent form lately. He scored thrice in four games in Spain and was the top-scorer in the Pro League season.
Local boy Karthi Selvam too will be one to watch out for, as he plays for the first time in Chennai with friends and family members eagerly egging him on from the stands. The 21-year-old forward from Ariyalur will be looking to make the most of whatever chances come his way against an inexperienced Chinese side, so as to gain confidence and aim to seal his spot in the XI for the Asian Games.

For China, on the other hand, it will be more about getting a feel of the big stage again and rubbing shoulders with some world-class players in the process.
China coach Weng Haiqin said on Wednesday: “This time we have a learning attitude and we have come to gain competitive experience. We know that the Indian team is strong, but we will try our best to challenge them. We don’t know if we have got the skills to match them, but we will push.


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