India strong but must play big games well, says Australia hockey skipper Eddie Ockenden
The next big stop for the Indian hockey team will be the World Cup in Bhubaneswar in November-December where Eddie Ockenden believes the hosts will have an upper hand.
The India hockey team may have failed to win gold at the recently concluded Asian Games in Jakarta but Australia captain and two-time World Cup winner Eddie Ockenden believes the Harendra Singh-coached outfit has enough depth to come out firing in the upcoming tournaments, including the World Cup in India later this year.
“They are a very strong team and are very competitive in international tournaments. They have got depth and a pool of players which they didn’t have previously. That always makes a big difference when you have not 8-10 but 30 good players to choose from,” said Ockenden, 31, from Perth.
“We have seen India’s squad improving overall. There were certainly very tough games that we played against India in the Champions Trophy. They were very close, one was a draw and one we won.”
India lost a pool game 2-3 to world No 1 Australia in the Champions Trophy in Breda, Holland, in June. On July 1, the teams were locked at 1-1 in the final -- India played the final only once before this, in 2016 --- but defending champions Australia won 3-1 in the penalty shootout.
“(To win tournaments) India have to make sure they’re playing well at the end of the tournament. They’re a pretty good team, they just have to make sure they’re playing well at the right time to give themselves a chance by winning games. When the big games come, you have to play well. We see that it is not easy to win a tournament, you just have to keep giving yourself the chance,” said the two-time Olympic bronze medallist.
After failing to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, India finished with silver at the Champions Trophy followed by a bronze at the Asian Games in Jakarta. The next big stop will be the World Cup in Bhubaneswar in November-December where Ockenden believes the hosts will have an upper hand.
“Playing at home definitely helps India. At times, they feel a little bit of pressure but they generally play really well at home. The favourites... it would be very hard for me to single one team out as there are a lot of good teams,” said Ockenden, who has seven Champions Trophy medals in his cabinet.
“It’s really hard to win international tournaments because there are so many good teams that you are playing against. India are a really strong team. You look at the start of the tournament and you know they are going to be very competitive,” he said.
First Published: Sep 06, 2018 08:40:33