India are hoping to claim their fourth Asian Gold medal in Jakarta and become the third nation to retain the title after Pakistan and South Korea.
Contrary to their performances at the Olympics and the World Championships the Asian Games have mostly been a last hurrah for menâ€™s team.
Despite being present in all the 15 editions for men’s hockey, India has won only three gold medals till date.
Leaving the past behind
This year as well has been a disappointing tale on the trot â€“ they finished fifth in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, and returned home from the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games without a medal, for the first time in 20 years.
In the next tournament however, India won their second-straight silver at the FIH Champions Trophy in Breda. Besides the fact that all three tournaments were played under different captains, the management was also constantly experimenting with the squad.
This time around, Indian men’s hockey team led by P. R. Sreejesh has displayed some stellar goalkeeping performances and has won matches against stronger sides. The Indian team has a very good chance of finishing at the podium at the 2018 Asian Games.
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh (Captain), Krishan B Pathak
Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Amit Rohidas
Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (Vice-Captain), Simranjeet Singh, Sardar Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad
Forwards: SV Sunil, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Dilpreet Singh.
Rupinder Pal Singh
With a player like Rupinder Pal Singh in the side, it is hard to look beyond him to determine where the difference will come for India.
Still the drag-flick specialist of the Indian team, Rupinder has just recovered from knee injury and is expected to be back in full health for their opening match against Hong Kong China.
The midfielder return will be additional boost as he makes a difference is in his ability to create chances .He will be reliant on his experience to offer a calming authority to a proven defence.
The Indian men’s team has been clubbed in Pool A alongside Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong, while Pool B consists of Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman, Thailand and Indonesia.
With India likely to top their pool, theyâ€™ll face whoever finishes second in Pool B in the knock-out round. Whoever the Indians draw, therefore, theyâ€™re likely to reach the quarter-finals.
In truth, itâ€™s not of much importance that they face in each round. The Indians are highly effective in knockout tournaments and, if anything, their squad has improved since 2014.Â Theyâ€™re more potent in attack and a largely similar defence. At the very least Indian will make the semi-final but the expectation will be to defend their trophy.
With the cash-strapped Pakistan field hockey team may not be the same powerhouse they once were, the chance of India winning the is on the catch If they manage to play as a cohesive unit apart from erstwhile Asian powerhouse South Korea,Â there is no stopping them from retaining the title.
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Source: Matchday Frolics