Bhubaneswar: The Indian men’s hockey team will be hoping to continue the momentum it picked up in South Africa im the FIH Pro League encounters against Spain over the weekend.
The Indian team will have to be at its best for the doubleheader between the two teams at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium here on Saturday and Sunday sd Spain are a strong team and the Indians are capable of making hara-kiri of things like they did against France in the second match in South Africa.
“We have played against Spain at the Tokyo Olympics, so we know we cannot take them lightly. They have a new coach in Max Caldas, who was previously with the very successful Netherlands team. We saw and analysed Spain’s games against England and they performed really well. So, it is important for our team to make the most of every chance that come our way against Spain,” India skipper Manpreet Singh said during a virtual press conference on Friday.
This will be India’s first meeting against Spain since picking a 3-0 win against them in the Pool A match at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
India vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh echoed his Captain’s remarks and said India will have to switch on from the starting whistle against Spain.
“Spain are a very good team. They gave us a good fight at the Tokyo Olympics. We know we have to switch on from the starting whistle. We must maintain the structure that we have practiced at the training sessions. We have to execute the drills that we have worked on in the match efficiently,” Harmanpreet Singh said.
Manpreet also spoke about India’s return to the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar for the first time since February 2020.
“We feel elated returning to Bhubaneswar. We always get positive vibes playing at this venue. We will miss having fans in the stands this time because they always cheer and support us. But we are positive because we have always had good results at this venue, and we want to replicate similar performances,” The Indian midfielder said.
Spain so far have played two games in Pro League 2021/22, losing both their encounters against England. On being asked at the pre-match virtual press conference about his expectations from his team in the upcoming matches against India, Spain head coach Max Caldas said they will look to put on an improved performance over the weekend.
“Our expectations are to improve and try to be better each day. We are in the process of getting to know each other and are starting to develop our game plan. In this process, every team has a few ups and downs. What we have to learn is when we do have a bad period, it does not cost us the game,” Caldas said.
“India are a great side. They have a good mixture of experienced players and young kids coming through. They are very well-coached and managed by Graham Reid and his staff. We hope to pose a challenge to the higher-ranked Indian team,” he added.
Spain captain Marc Miralles also spoke on the team’s preparedness. “The weather is a bit hot here. But our team has been preparing well. We are quite happy in Bhubaneswar. People are really nice which is really important for us because when you are from home for so many weeks, you need to feel welcomed,” Marc said.
“Everyone has treated us really well. So, we have been able to focus solely on our hard training sessions and hopefully, we can win the coming games against India,” the Spanish captain added.