Hockey squad undergoing psychology sessions to regain belief post CWG failure

Bengaluru, June 8 (IANS) India’s hockey team’s vice-captain Chinglensana Singh Kangujam on Friday revealed that the players are undergoing psychology sessions in order to regain their self belief ahead of a crucial year after the failed campaign at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, in April.

The ongoing preparatory camp for the FIH Champions Trophy has seen the squad focused on maintaining the right structure with emphasis on on-field communication, following basics to keep ball possession, front-line defence, counter control and penalty corner defending, apart from the sessions to keep the players in the right frame of mind.

After the 18-member squad was announced last week, the Indian team under new chief coach Harendra Singh, has upped the ante knowing well that the Rabobank Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy in Breda offers the right platform to test themselves ahead of the prestigious World Cup Bhubaneswar. India will face the world’s top teams, including Olympic champions Argentina, world champions Australia, World No.3 Belgium, hosts Netherlands and Pakistan.

“The team has moved on from the poor performance at the Gold Coast 2018 XXI Commonwealth Games. At this camp, one of the main focus is on team’s on-field communication and re-instilling the team’s belief that we have it in us to go for gold,” Chinglensana said in a release after the day’s training at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre here.

“Our psychology sessions have been critical in making us believe in the team goal and chief coach has prepared a 20-point agenda which we read every day ahead of training sessions to remind ourselves of our aim ahead of the tournament,” the midfielder added.

The Indian team’s failure in converting field goals despite improved circle penetrations has been a concern.

Goalkeeper and Captain PR Sreejesh stated that the team has paid special attention to this area over the past two weeks in the national camp.

“We have paid a lot of attention to the positioning of forwards in the striking circle. Our chief coach has not just drawn out the position chart for the strikers and explained in theory, but has also walked them through the positioning to ensure they don’t repeat the mistakes made at 2018 CWG because of which we missed out on scoring critical goals.

“Front-line defence is also one of the key areas we have paid extra attention to,” Sreejesh stated.

With just 10 days to go before the squad leaves for the Netherlands on June 18, Sreejesh believes the team has the calibre to finish at the top.

“We have a good team balance with experience and youth. Our preparations have been earnest and the team certainly has the calibre to finish on top provided we play our A-game and not make silly mistakes and lose out on scoring opportunities,” the seasoned goalkeeper said.

“This is the best chance to see where we stand against top teams in the world before the World Cup in Bhubaneswar in November-December and we need to make this opportunity count,” the captain concluded.

India will begin their campaign at the Champions Trophy against arch-rivals Pakistan on June 23.

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