Buoyed by favourable results against Olympic champions Argentina in two practice games, India will hope to continue their impressive run when the teams meet in back-to-back FIH Pro League matches over the next two days. India had defeated the hosts 4-3 in the first practice outing and came close to upsetting them in the second match too before Lucas’s 57th-minute goal earned the home team a 4-4 draw. In both the games, India controlled the midfield and took the lead. India’s attacking prowess in the second practice game was awe-inspiring as they scored three goals in the first quarter only to allow Argentina to regroup and draw the game.
India’s chief coach Graham Reid, who has been trying to iron out this flaw, has asked his boys to tighten up their game in the third and fourth quarter, where India concede most goals.
“We allowed Argentina to come back into the game particularly in the third quarter where they scored twice. When you play a strong team like them, we need to be consistent in all the quarters,” Reid had pointed out after India’s win in the first practice outing. But the lesson wasn’t learnt and the hosts clawed back in the second game.
Even India captain Manpreet Singh has told his boys that it’s important to make use of the opportunities ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and the FIH Pro League is one great chance for the team to show cohesion.
“Having missed match practice for much of last year due to lockdowns, 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… we could have scored even more while conceding fewer goals (in practice games). We are working hard to be more compact at the back and being more ruthless going forward,” the 28-year-old said.
This will be India’s first FIH Pro League match since they played Australia in February 2020 at Bhubaneswar. India are currently fifth in the standings with 10 points from six games.