Manpreet Singh

Bengaluru, May 29 (IANS) India hockey team captain Manpreet Singh said playing against 2016 Olympic medal winning teams Belgium and Germany in the Three Nations Invitational Tournament, will give them ample opportunity to assess themselves ahead of next month’s crucial Hero Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Final.

The 18-member squad departed for Dusseldorf, Germany from the Kempegowda International Airport here in the wee hours of Monday. They had a two-week national camp at the Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru campus as part of their preparations. The three-nation tournament will begin on June 1.

“Playing top teams like Germany and Belgium will help us a lot ahead of the Hero Hockey World League Semi Final. If we play well against them, we will gain a lot of confidence and it will give us a little more time to make minor changes in our game and iron out any mistake,” stated skipper Manpreet ahead of the departure, according to a release.

“We will be able to assess our performance and get ready for the bigger challenge in London.”

Right after the Dusseldorf meet, the team will arrive in London on June 9 for the HWL Semi-Final where they will play practice matches against Olympic gold medallists Argentina and Britain before the start of the tournament.

“We always take practice matches seriously because doing well in a practice match means gaining the required momentum for the start of the tournament. We will also get the feel of the pitch to get a good sense of how to take penalty corners.” expressed the 24-year-old.

India will play their first match against Scotland (June 15), followed by Canada (June 17), Pakistan (June 18) and the Netherlands (June 20) in the pool stage.

“We cannot single out any one team as a tough team to beat because every team will play their best considering this is a prestigious tournament and also a World Cup qualifier. We cannot take any team lightly and our aim will be to start on a winning note and earn those three points,” he added.

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