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Graham Reid acknowledges overdependence on Harmanpreet Singh | Hockey News – Times of India


With just a couple of days remaining for Indian men’s opening game in the new season of FIH Pro League against New Zealand, Manpreet Singh & Co have been sweating it out hard at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar where they will be playing their first game post the Commonwealth Games.
But even as they begin a new season, the 7-0 defeat against Australia in the final of the Birmingham meet will be on the back of their minds. It was another depressing defeat that the Indian team had to endure against the Aussies. Even during Tokyo Olympics India had lost 1-7.
Speaking of the loss at CWG, India head coach Graham Reid, who won the FIH Men’s Coach of the Year Award earlier this month, said, “No one wants to lose in that fashion and especially to Australia again. I think we were a bit intimidated. Another fact is that the lot had not won a medal in the previous Commonwealth Games. Also, it was a big occasion for a couple of them.”
Looking forward, Reid has some ideas that he hopes will help the team in facing Australia. “One of the things I said straight after the match is that we need to desensitize ourselves with the Australians or to the Australians,” said Reid during an exclusive interview with TOI.
They have a good opportunity to do when they face off against the Kookaburras in a 5-match Test series in November-December. “Want to make sure that the Australian trip is fruitful. Also want to have a session or two with the state teams so that the Indian players can have a first-hand experience of how to go about it,” added the head coach.
Harmanpreet factor
Keeping aside India’s showing against Australia, the team has done well in the recent past and one man who has played a huge role in this is Harmanpreet Singh, who won the FIH Men’s Player of the Year Award for a second time in a row. He scored an incredible 18 goals from 16 games, with two hat-tricks, in the Pro League last season.
The drag-flicker, who has been named captain in the squad for the Pro League announced on Tuesday, should be credited for his efforts but the team has grown overly dependent on him at times. Reid is not only aware of it but has said it’s something he also experienced during his stint with the Australian team.
“You can call it the Jamie factor. When I was with the Australian team, the players would at times give the ball to Jamie (Dwyer) and just relax. You have to be always careful of that when one person goes on to dominate one group,” Reid said before further adding, “I’m very aware of it. Need to make sure he (Harmanpreet) keeps the ball moving. We have got Jugraj (Singh) in for that (penalty corners), and we have also been trying to develop Jarmanpreet (Singh) for the same.”
Filling the gaps
Meanwhile, the coach wants to improve the team’s defensive approach as well the players’ attacking ability inside the final 25. “It’s about thinking of defence from a whole team’s perspective. It starts from the front but at the back we have to make sure that the hotline is covered, that tackling is better, and marking is much tighter,” said Reid.
“Another area we are looking at is the effectiveness of our attacks inside the 25. They like to smash the balls from long and it’s quite ingrained in the system. But I am focusing on doing drills around the scoring zone, that is the 5m around the circle, and sticking to the ball.”
The coach also wants the players to get better at counter control, which he thinks the team is still weak at.
New season, new approach
With a new season starting and the World Cup less than three months’ away the coach has been trying out some new stuff. “We are looking at a couple of different structures. We have been playing with two strikers in a 4-2-2 formation, but I suppose we will be into 4-3-3 depending on who we play against,” the coach said. “We are also working on another type of press which is quite nice and aggressive.”
Memorable moment
Whatever the approach, the home fans will be highly disappointed if India fails to finish on the podium at the World Cup which India will be hosting for the second time in a row in January next year.
Reid is quite aware of the challenge. Having said that he is quite pleased with what he has achieved over the past year and for him the best part is the number of players who have made it to the national side.
“Someone did the math and it’s something like 32 players who played for India over the past 12 months. To achieve this was pretty good and it’s an important part of developing long-term success,” the coach added.
Only time will tell whether Reid will succeed in helping India grab the World Cup crown, but one thing is for certain that he has changed the team for good and has infused them with the hunger to win, which was missing for a long time.





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