India will clash with arch-rivals Pakistan in the lung-opener of the Champions Trophy hockey tournament, beginning in Breda, Holland, on Saturday. As always, the India-Pakistan clash is the highlight of the tournament that also features Olympic champions Argentina, Australia, Belgium and Holland. According to a Hockey India (HI) release, taking on Pakistan, ranked No.13 in the world, India ranked at World No.6 should have no qualms in overcoming the challenge albeit they keep their emotions in check and stick to the game plan.
Chief Coach Harendra Singh, who took over the post recently, put things in perspective. "Getting off to a winning start is vital because it sets the momentum for the rest of the tournament. There will be no room for emotions when we take on Pakistan. The team will play against them like any other team where we go for the three points," HI quoted him as saying.
"We have prepared well for this tournament and are confident of a good performance. Our focus will be on playing to the structure and executing our strategies against each opponent without making any errors," asserted Harendra Singh.
Over the past year, India had enjoyed convincing victories over their nemesis right from the Asian Champions Trophy in 2016 when they had beaten Pakistan in the final. This was followed by a double victory in the Hockey World League semi-final in London 2017 and the Asia Cup in Dhaka where India lifted the title after 10 years.
But at the recent XXI Commonwealth Games, Pakistan held India to a draw.
"There is no doubt we need to be smart in our defence, not allow easy penetration into the striking circle. We must avoid conceding PCs (penalty corners) against Pakistan or Argentina who we play in the second match," said Harendra Singh.
On Sunday, June 24, India will take on Olympic champions Argentina.