PR Sreejesh believes a good performance against Belgium, the world number two ranked team in hockey will boost them for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (Image credit: Twitter)
A successful away outing against world no.2 Belgium will definitely boost the confidence of the Indian men's hockey team ahead of the Olympics qualifiers, feels experienced goalkeeper PR Sreejesh. The Indian team is coming off a successful Olympic Test event in Tokyo where they were crowned champions after thrashing New Zealand 5-0. The world no. 5 Indian men's team will next tour Belgium in September before the all-important Olympic Qualifiers in November.
"The tour of Belgium is a massive series for us. They are the no. 2 side in the world and if we perform well against them then it will be a big confidence boost for us ahead of the FIH Olympic Qualifiers. Hopefully, we will win the series at their home turf," Sreejesh said.
Talking about the success at the Test event, the 31-year-old, who was rested along with several senior players, said the team has the right balance for the upcoming FIH Olympic Qualifiers. "It's been amazing to see the way our team has performed in the last couple of months. Our victory in the Olympic Test event showed that we have an excellent bench strength. The team has the right balance at the moment and we are confident of booking a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics," he said.
Like their male counterparts, the Indian women's hockey team also returned triumphant from the Test event after beating hosts Japan 2-1 in the final. Analysing the team's performance, goalkeeper Savita said on-field communication was key to the team's success at Tokyo. "We were extremely pleased with our performance at the Olympic Test Event. Being unbeaten was a very heartening performance and especially playing toe-to-toe with world no. 2 Australia gave us a lot of confidence. The players are communicating very well on the field and therefore we have been able to win tournaments," she said.
The Indian women's team, ranked 10 in the world, will take on England in September ahead of the FIH Olympic Qualifiers. "We have gained momentum at the right time with victories. However, we cannot get carried away with the results and need to continue to focus on improving our game. Playing the world no. 4 England side will be a tough challenge in a five-match series, but if we continue to communicate well on the field then we will surely produce great results," Savita said.