After a successful 2014 where the Indian team won the gold medal in Asian game 2014 and qualified for the Rio Olympics, silver at the Commonwealth games 2014 and finishing a credible fourth in the Champions Trophy 2014 in Bhuvneshwar where eight top teams participated in the tournament.
The first challenge of 2015 will be the Azlan Shah Tournament which will be held between 5th April to 12th April in Ipho, Malyasia. In this tournament six teams will participate which includes India, Korea, Australia, NewZeleand, Malaysia and Canada. This will be a chance for the Indian team to prepare for the Rio Olympics and rectify their mistakes that they were doing the previous year. India’s first match is against Korea on 5th, followed by NewZeleand on 6th April, Malaysia on 8th, Canada on 9th and finally Australia on 11th April. Korea are 8th in World ranking, NewZeleand are 7th while Australia is at the top of the rankings and will possess a tough challenge to the Indian team.
India has fielded a full strength squad for this tournament. PR Sreejesh and Harjot Singh are goalkeepers, while the defenders are Gurbaj Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra, Ragunath, and Kothajit. The forward are Ramandeep Singh, SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmah. All these Indian players have played in Hockey India League and got the experience of playing well. This team needs to be consistent and focus on their penalty corners. Australia is the defending champions of the tournament. These teams have some quality players and have defeated Belgium, Holland in the Champions Trophy 2014.
I think India has a great chance of qualifying for the finals. They need to focus on play and needs to be aggressive. It promises to be a good tournament for India as it gives a chance for the new coach to gel with the team and take Indian hockey forward.