Buenos Aires [Argentina], April 9 (ANI): The FIH Pro League action resumes with Indian Men's Hockey Team facing Argentina in back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday.
Over the course of the two practice games, Manpreet Singh and the team showed that they mean business over two high-scoring encounters.
India hit the ground running straight away in Buenos Aires with a thrilling 4-3 win in the first encounter. However, the Olympic Champions will be encouraged after earning a draw in the second game, which saw both teams score four goals each.
Captain Manpreet was happy with the way his team begun against the reigning Olympic Champions.
"Both practice matches were good. They were hard-fought games and quite intense," Manpreet said in a Hockey India release. The Indian captain feels his team could further improve, both in attack and defence.
"Having missed match practice for much of last year, we have to cash in on the opportunities we get. It is good for us that we are tested against a tough opponent like Olympic Champions Argentina. In both games, we showed a lot of fight and created loads of chances. But we could have scored even more whilst conceding fewer goals. We are working hard to be more compact at the back and being more ruthless going forward," the 28-year-old added.
The pressure, though, will be on the hosts. Argentina succumbed to twin defeats against Germany last week, which saw them slip to sixth place in the FIH Pro League table. India is currently level on points (10) with Argentina at fifth place but has played four matches fewer.
The Indian side's solid start to the tournament last year also hands them a bit of a cushion but will be wary of a wounded Argentinian side attempting to make a strong comeback.
The Indian players peaking at the right time also bodes well keeping the Tokyo Olympics in mind. This will be the senior men's team's last bit of competitive action before the big-ticket event.
Manpreet is also relishing being back on the field and wearing the captain's armband again. "Yes, last year was a difficult time for all of us. We had played very good hockey in the initial round of the FIH Pro League games against tough opponents such as Belgium, Netherlands and Australia," he weighed in.
"We worked hard in our training camps and tried our best to recreate the intensity of a high-stake international match. That is why the upcoming matches are so important to us. One of the areas we really focussed on during our national camp in SAI, Bengaluru, was to make more circle entries and finish chances. Converting penalty corner opportunities is another aspect we wanted to get better at," said Manpreet.
Manpreet refused to read much into Argentina's recent slump in form handing India a slight advantage going into the two FIH Pro League encounters. (ANI)