After a successful campaign in Asian games 2014 where India won the gold medal after 16 years and booked a direct entry into the Rio Olympics in 2016, now the focus will be on how they perform in the upcoming Champions Trophy 2014 in Bhuvneshwar from December 6. The Indian team has been grouped with Holland (2) Germany (3), and Argentina (7). All of these teams are in the top 10 teams in the World. They need to first cruise through the group games. The other group comprises of Australia, England, Pakistan and Belguim. Their final challenge could be against Australia who is in the other group and are the defending champions of this tournament.
The first match of India will be against Germany. India beat them in World Hockey Finals 2014 at the World Hockey League for fifth to seventh position classification match in New Delhi. All the other teams in other group are very tough. India’s performance in the Champions trophy has not been good with 3rd place once in 1982 and 6 times 4th place in 1983, 1996, 2002, 2003, 20004 and 2012. The most titles in this tournament has been won by Australia with 13 titles and 5 consecutive (1999 to 2012) titles in a row
India has done well in the recently concluded Asian games 2014. The defense of India team was good and the attack was very good. India has quality in form of captain Sardar Singh, excellent penalty corner specialist in the form of Ragunath and Rupinder Pal Singh. The Indian team needs to focus on converting chances into goals against top sides in this tournament.
The recent tour of Australia where India defeated the home team by 3-1 is morale booster. It proves that India can be a dangerous side and beat any team on the day. India will be playing at home and it will be advantageous for them with home crowd support to play their best game against these top sides in the World. The main challenge for them is maintain with the pace of these top teams which are so tough in terms of stamina, fitness and agility.
They must make sure their penalty corner specialist is on dot. The Indian team is good and balanced side. The coaches must make sure that the Indian team must work hard and just focus on the challenges ahead of them. If the Indian team plays well in this tournament as a unit and plug their loopholes it will provide morale booster for the team trying to revive the game in India. The Indian team finished 9th in the Hockey World Cup in Hague in 2014.