Tokyo Olympics: Flexibility, heat and humidity were factors behind selection, says India men’s hockey team coach Graham Reid

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By ANI

BENGALURU: India men’s hockey team coach Graham Reid threw some light on the selection of players for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 as 10 of the 16-member squad would be making their Olympic debuts.

While PR Sreejesh, Manpreet Singh, and Birendra Lakra, who missed out on Rio Olympics with a knee injury, were included in the squad, veterans like SV Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, and Ramandeep Singh were left out.

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“Heat and humidity were factors behind team selection. Flexibility was also taken into account,” the Olympic website quoted coach Graham Reid as a saying during a media interaction facilitated by Hockey India.

“Then 16 players restrict your ability to accommodate more, we are used to playing with 18. If someone gets injured then we need someone versatile to play in both midfield and defense. Those were the things that played a factor.”

Reid has very interestingly picked only one goalkeeper in Sreejesh and that meant promising keeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak was omitted. “We will be taking separate goalkeeping pads for players who can substitute if Sreejesh is injured. We are preparing a couple of players for that for the past couple of weeks. We have decided on the reserves but not going to reveal them right now,” he pointed.

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Fourth-ranked India will begin their Olympic campaign against New Zealand on July 24. India is in Pool A along with Olympic champions Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and hosts Japan.

The 57-years-old tactician opined that in modern hockey both mentality and the skill set are equally important and both are complementary to each other.

“The biggest thing that a coach feels is that we have not done enough. He always wants to do more. But in the last 15 months, I have got to know my players very well, the mentality of the group, and their stories in a 10-minute one-on-one video which is very powerful. We have to understand that they were in a bio bubble and when the chips are down in Tokyo this tough mentality will help them get through.

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“Modern sport these days is very much in the mental sphere. It is important to understand their journeys. Indians do not understand how mentally agile they are. But the skills aspect is also important. I don’t know where to draw a line as both are important,” he added. (ANI)

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