Because the highest-ranked facet within the match, at present sitting at world quantity 4, India will kick off their marketing campaign in opposition to China on the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium, marking the venue’s first main occasion since 2007.
This match additionally holds particular significance because it’s the primary time India is internet hosting the Asian Champions Trophy since its inception in 2011.
The first goal for India on this match is to evaluate their gamers and achieve useful insights into their Asian rivals forward of the Asian Video games scheduled in Hangzhou, China, from September 23 to October 8. The Asian Video games supply a direct qualification ticket for subsequent yr’s Paris Olympics, making it essential for India to check their assets within the Asian Champions Trophy.
Nonetheless, they need to additionally stability this with maintaining their gamers recent and injury-free for the all-important continental showpiece.
Whereas some visiting groups have expressed considerations concerning the scheduling of the Asian Champions Trophy simply 5 weeks earlier than the Hangzhou Video games, India’s head coach Craig Fulton appears unfazed and able to embrace the chance to take part on this occasion.
“… It is one thing that you must do. However we want the video games. So it is essential that we play it. It is even higher that it is in India,” Fulton advised reporters on Tuesday.
“We’re wanting ahead to the positives and negatives. However on the similar time, we get to take a look at just a few additional gamers as properly, which is essential for us. Damage is rarely good for any staff or participant. So sure, I perceive the conflict and the timing.”
India’s captain, Harmanpreet Singh, has emphasised the staff’s should be strategic within the upcoming match, avoiding an all-out aggressive method attributable to their important focus being on the Asian Video games.
Regardless of gaining larger rankings and incomes respect in world hockey after their bronze medal efficiency on the Tokyo Olympics, the Indian staff confronted disappointment within the FIH World Cup co-hosted by Bhubaneswar and Rourkela earlier this yr, ending in a disappointing joint ninth place. Nonetheless, since then, underneath Harmanpreet’s management, the staff has performed 16 matches, securing victories in 9, enduring 5 losses, and settling for a few attracts.
Previous the match, the Indian staff was on tour in Europe, which left them with solely a three-day hole between their remaining match in Spain and their opening match in opposition to China within the Asian Champions Trophy. This tight schedule will expose the staff to various enjoying circumstances.
One space of concern for India within the match is their penalty nook conversion price. Regardless of having expert dragflickers in Harmanpreet, Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas and Jugraj Singh, their conversion price has been a topic of debate not too long ago. Addressing this challenge might be a major goal for the staff within the competitors.
However coach Fulton just isn’t sleeping over it.
“We now have world-class penalty nook (specialists). All of the gamers concerned in it are actually good. Opposition groups know we’ve a menace there and attempt to diminish it by attempting to run down or not conceding as many is all the time one thing that groups are attempting to do, and that is what we attempt to do,” Fulton had stated.
“I believe we are able to all the time enhance. It is simply how a lot element we need to go into and the way a lot time we put into bettering it.”
India’s historical past within the Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) has been a combined one, showcasing a mixture of successes and challenges through the years. They secured victory within the inaugural version in 2011, in addition to in 2016 and 2018, the place they collectively shared the title with Pakistan as a result of remaining being washed out.
Along with their three victories, India additionally earned a silver medal in 2012 and a bronze in 2021. The latter achievement got here simply 4 months after their exceptional efficiency on the Olympics, the place they completed on the Video games podium after 41 years.
Quite the opposite, China’s look on this yr’s match marks their first aggressive occasion, as they missed out on the World Cup.
The opening day of the match will function two different matches, with defending champions South Korea taking over Japan, and Pakistan locking horns with Malaysia.