Bengaluru, Mar 31 (PTI) Its morale high after an unbeaten tour of Europe, the Indian men's hockey team left for a competition trip to Argentina on Wednesday with captain Manpreet Singh optimistic of a strong show against the reigning Olympic champions.
A 22-member Indian team left for Buenos Aires from here this morning for its second outing in 2021 after an unbeaten tour of Europe last month where it took on Germany and Great Britain.
Returning to the Indian team after a year, Manpreet shared his excitement about playing against a top-quality side.
'Not playing competitive hockey for over a year has been a big setback but this is something every team in the world is facing due to the pandemic,' Manpreet said in a press release issuing by Hockey India.
The six-match tour against hosts Argentina includes four games matches apart from the back-to-back FIH Hockey Pro League matches on April 11 and 12.
'Though I missed out the Europe tour due to personal reasons, I was closely following the matches and it was very encouraging to see how the team performed against Germany and Great Britain. We are looking forward to yet another unbeaten tour,' stated the optimistic captain.
The tour is largely being viewed as an exposure for the team as it prepares for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Manpreet believes it will be a great opportunity for the youngsters to prove themselves in the lead up to the Games.
'Quite a few youngsters have been selected in the squad for this tour and I believe this will be a great opportunity for them to show their mettle against a top-quality team.
'Every opportunity we are getting in these challenging times is like a blessing and we need to make the most of it,' he said.
Speaking about his personal goals, Manpreet said, 'It has been a tough year for all of us. I think personally for me, overcoming COVID last year was more of a mental battle than anything else.
'I was off hockey for nearly six weeks, but I was very fortunate to receive the best care, thanks to the efforts of Hockey India and SAI. Over these past few months, I have put in a lot of hardwork to return to my earlier form.
'This tour will not only be a good occasion for the team to assess our performance but also personally for me to understand the areas I need to improve individually too.' PTI AH PM PM