We are ready for Australia challenge in CWG, says hockey team skipper Manpreet

NEW DELHI, Jul 7:  Indian men’s hockey team captain Manpreet Singh on Thursday said they are well prepared to give six-time champions Australia a run for their money in this year’s Commonwealth Games, despite not playing against the current world no.1 side for over a year.

             Australia are the most successful men’s hockey team in CWG’s history, having won all the six gold medals on offer since the game’s introduction in the quadrennial event in 1998 Kuala Lumpur.

             India, on the other hand, finished runners-up twice in 2010 and 2014 editions.

             “Even though we (India and Australia) aren’t in the same group but there are every possibilities to meet them at later stages of the tournament. We have been continuously studying their strengths and weaknesses,” Manpreet said during the kit unveiling ceremony of the CWG-bound Indian contingent here.

             “We haven’t played them for over a year but our main focus will be on not giving Australia chances at the start. No doubt they are good team, but we will try not to let them come inside the D line and give them an opportunity to score. We also need capitalise on our opportunities,” the 30-year-old midfielder added.

             India and Australia are placed in different pools in the Birmingham CWG to be held from July 28 to August 8. The Indians are placed in Pool B alongside England, Canada, Wales and Ghana, while Pool A consists of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Scotland.

             India will open their campaign against Ghana on July 31, followed by matches against England (August 1), Canada (August 3) and Wales (August 4).

             Asked about their second pool match against the home team, Manpreet said: England is a team that can do well. So the only thing we need to focus is not to give them easy chances.”

              The India skipper is an Adidas athlete. The company was named as the footwear partner for the CWG contingent. (PTI)