Bengaluru [India], Sept 25 (ANI): With the Men's Asia Cup 2017 is just 15 days away, the Indian Men's Hockey Team have upped the ante in their final preparations for the prestigious tournament in Dhaka, where they participate as title-favourites.
At the national camp that's underway in Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru, it is a usual sight for senior players Sardar Singh, SV Sunil and team skipper Manpreet Singh to stay back after every training session to give their feedback to newly-appointed Indian men's hockey chief coach Sjoerd Marijne.
Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, who is also back in the camp, too is often seen having long animated conversations with the coach about areas that require improvement ahead of the major event. This exercise is part of the team's new mantra - "Player-driven, coach-assisted process" where seniors are expected to give their critical analysis on specific areas of the game.
For the 43-year-old Dutch chief coach, this process is instrumental as the team enters an important cycle with major tournaments coming up in the next 15 months including the Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 in December, Commonwealth Games in April followed by the Asian Games and Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018.
"The Hero Asia Cup 2017 is a fresh start not just for me but also the team who are mentally prepared to return home with the title. I believe this process initiated by Hockey India and the High Performance Director David John will help bring a better understanding on how the team wants to play," he said.
"My first few days with the team has been about understanding each one of them. Of course, I already knew all of them by name and I was aware of the immense talent and energy they bring as players. I am now focusing on understanding how the team wants to play so I can set goals for the training sessions on where they want to improve," expressed Marijne after officially joining the team last week.
Under Marijne, there will be a lot of emphasis on development of junior players."It takes time for the junior players to get to the level of seniors and requires good match exposure to reach that level. But what I like is the internal competition and with a great set of junior players pushing the seniors for a spot in the team, I believe it will work for the best," he added.
A certain amount of excitement is apparent for Marijne as the Hero Asia Cup 2017 will be his first big tournament after taking over the reins of the Indian Men's Hockey Team but that apart, he believes this tournament will reveal the areas that will need improvement moving forward.
"There is a difference between training sessions and playing tournament matches. While I am convinced with the efforts the team puts in training, the Hero Asia Cup is where I will get to see how the team reacts in match situations and where we are lacking and need immediate improvement," he concluded.
The Indian Team will play their first match against Japan in their Pool A encounter on October 11 before they take on hosts Bangladesh on October 13 followed by Pakistan on October 15 in the pool stage. (ANI)