India, Korea out to challenge norms

The big challenge awaits India and Japan

7 June 2016


#HCT2016 #BestOfTheBest
#asiahockey #LoveHockey

For India and South Korea, the Champions Trophy in London from June 10-17 will not only be a test of mental strength but a ‘psychological’ battle to banish memories of their woeful past performance.

The Indians have won almost every major hockey title in history – eight-time Olympic champions, World Cup, and of recent defeating Pakistan to the 2014 Asian Games gold medal which sealed them of a place in the Rio Olympics. But the Champions Trophy has been one difficult catch for both India and Korea since its inception in 1978 in the Pakistan city of Lahore.

India’s best performance in the Champions Trophy was finishing third in 1982 and subsequently fourth place finish in seven other editions.

The Koreans, on the contrary, lost to Australia 3-1 in the 1999 final and stepped on the podium again in 2000 and 2009 by finishing third ahead of Spain and Netherlands. Whereas, a steady performance in the test series bout against Ireland boosts Korean’s confidence.
Bring it on! (Photo: Korea Hockey Association)

Korea qualified for the Champions Trophy by virtue of winning the 2014 Champions Challenge held in the city of Kuantan, Pahang in Malaysia, and face Belgium in the pool opening match on June 10.

A stunning victory over Germany on June 10 opening match could suggest a rejuvenated India all set for bigger battles ahead of the Rio Olympic Games. As Asia’s flag bearers, India and Korea’s performance in the London Champions Trophy will be closely watched by millions of hockey fans in this region.

Both India and Koreans have been producing high quality matches on the international stage in recent years. The year 2014 has been one of glorious and great satisfaction to the Indians. From a ninth place finish at the World Cup, India bounced back to clinch silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, and later strolled to glory at the Asian Games before completing the year-end Hero Hockey Champions Trophy on home soil in Bhubaneswar in fourth place.

The following year drew bigger surprises for millions of hockey fans in India when the team claimed a fourth place finish at the World League Semi-Final in Antwerp, Belgium before securing the bronze medal at the World League Final in Raipur, on home turf.

Coached by Roelant Oltmans, the Dutchman who guided Netherlands to Olympic and World Cup glory in 1996 and 1998 respectively, India continued its fine form in recent years by claiming the silver medal at the 2016 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.
Thank you very much for all the good wishes and blessings today.

— Roelant Oltmans (@OltmansOltmans) May 25, 2016

The team left New Delhi for London last Sunday with some of the finest players in their stable. As a stand-in captain for Sardar Singh, who has been rested for the Champions Trophy, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh said his priority will be to ensure the youngsters in the team stay motivated.

Apart from Sreejesh, India has named drag-flick specialist VR Raghunath, defender Harmanpreet Singh, who shone like a beacon in this year’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, and youngsters Harjeet Singh and 21-year-old goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya.

“This will be a mental test for us as we play world’s top four teams in London and we play the five teams we will face in Rio at the Six Nations Tournament in Spain later,” Sreejesh was quoted in The Hindu.

For the Dutch coach, the approach towards the Champions Trophy is not just to view it from a winning point but execute tactics and learn from past mistakes.

India and South Korea will need to rediscover their fighting spirits in the Champions Trophy in the company of World Champions Australia, Germany, Belgium and Great Britain. The Australians have won the Champions Trophy 13 times and Germany 10.
.@16Sreejesh : Champions Trophy and Six Nations will be an ideal mental test #Hockey


— (@IndiaSportscafe) June 6, 2016

For news and updates from the Hero Hockey Champions Trophy 2016 #HCT2016, follow the FIH Facebook and Twitter feeds as well as the Asian representatives from India and Korea.

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 Korea team manager Young Kyo Kim with the Korean team.
Korea team manager Young Kyo Kim with the Korean team.
India coach Roelant Oltmans with the India team
India coach Roelant Oltmans with the India team
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