Antwerp, June 19: Following a relatively long break, the Sardar Singh-led Indian hockey team will begin their campaign with more than a point to prove when they take on World No.18 France in their Pool A opener of the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Fil here on Saturday.
The Asian giants have had a relatively good summer with a bronze medal finish in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and a 3-0 win over Japan in a bilateral four-Test home series.
Though India don’t have much of a motive as both their objectives for this tourment have been achieved. A top-3 finish in the tourment will qualify a team for the 2016 Olympics while a top-4 will make them eligible for the HWL Fil in November-December.
India, however, have achieved both their targets. They became the first team to secure a Rio Games berth when they won the 2014 Asian Games gold. As hosts, they are also assured of a spot in the HWL Fil.
However, they will look to put their best foot forward under new chief coach Paul van Ass who would like to make his mark on Indian hockey.
“The boys look in good form as they have showcased great play during the practice matches. But tomorrow will be the real test that they have to pass. Our practice match against Great Britain helped the team to work on the initial pressure that we had planned,” said van Ass. IANS