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Our Asia Champions Trophy campaign starts with the Pakistan clash: India hockey coach Harendra Singh


India hockey team’s head coach Harendra Singh feels the 2018 Asian Games disappointment still looms large on the players’ minds but he has personally shrugged it off and is keenly looking forward to the high-profile contest against Pakistan in the Asia Champions Trophy in Muscat on Saturday.

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Defending champions India failed to win the gold at the 2018 Asiad in Jakarta going down on sudden death to Malaysia in the semi-finals. They, however, beat Pakistan in the third-place play-offs to claim the bronze medals. Fast forward two months and India have once again entered a tournament as the defending champions.

They thrashed hosts Oman 11-0 in their opening match on Thursday but for coach Harendra, the competition begins with the clash against Pakistan two days later. “The competitive part of the tournament starts Saturday with the match against Pakistan,” he said to news agency PTI on Friday.

“After the semi-final loss in the Asian Games, the mood was not good for a few days. The disappointment of not winning the Asian Games gold is still playing on the minds of the players somewhat, but we cannot keep thinking of the past,” he added, reports the news agency.

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Harendra sees the Asia Champions Trophy as the best way to prepare for the upcoming World Cup at home in November.

“We are now focused on this tournament and the side is shaping well. Nine of our players scored goals against Oman in the first outing here. A victory here in the Asian Champions Trophy will be a good path for the World Cup just over a month away. This tournament is close to the World Cup, we need competitive matches and we are getting them.”

But unlike India, Pakistan skipper Rizwan Senior is not thinking about the India game yet. His side begins their campaign against Korea on Friday and for Rizwan winning it is his team’s first priority.

“Our first priority is to make a winning start against Korea on Friday. They have made about eight changes in their team and since we don’t know too much about what these new players bring to the team, we have to be quite cautious against them,” he was quoted as saying by the agency.

“But yes, India- Pakistan matches are always good for the audience and this will be the first time the two teams will be playing in Muscat so naturally the excitement is high among hockey lovers here,” he quipped. “Hopefully, we will live up to the expectations and ensure it will be a thrilling match.”

Image Source: Zee News

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