India will begin their campaign in the second-leg of the Four Nations Invitational Tournament in Hamilton against the hosts New Zealand at the Gallagher Hockey Stadium on January 24.
In the first-leg of the tournament, India got off to a good start with 6-0 win against Japan but lost 0-2 to Belgium in the following match.
Winning 3-1 against hosts New Zealand, who had beaten Belgium 5-4 in their first match, put the Manpreet Singh-led Indian team in the Final.
India topped the pool table with a total of nine goals, having conceded only three in the pool stage while Belgium scored ten goals but conceded six.
“As a team, we have made progress match after match. We had four young players make their debut and even scored in matches, which is good.
We came close to beating Olympic Silver Medallist Belgium which gives us a lot of confidence going into an important calendar year for hockey,” expressed Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne about the team’s performance in the first leg.
Though his team lost a closely contested final by 1-2 to Belgium, Marijne feels the result for him is positive.
Meanwhile, skipper Manpreet Singh stated that the team is eager to put up an improved performance in Hamilton.
“Doing well against a team like Belgium will no doubt give us the confidence for future matches but winning against them will be a big boost to young players. To be able to do that, there are areas that require improvement and we need to ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes we did in the previous matches,” stated the 25-year-old skipper.