India had their first training session on Thursday morning at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar after arriving in the city on Wednesday for the Men's Hockey World League (HWL) Final. The team went through the paces under the watchful eyes of chief coach Sjoerd Marijne as it started its preparations for the eight-nation tournament, starting on December 1.
The 43-year-old Dutch coach emphasised on speed and tactical training as the 18-member squad played a short 30-minute half-court match against each other.
"Our first practice session went well. It is good to be at the Kalinga Stadium. While it is my first time here, for the players it is like home because all of them have played many Hockey India League Matches here. The pitch is fast so we like it," Marijne expressed after the 90-minute training session.
The mega event will see top teams in the world battle for supremacy. Defending champions Australia will meet India in their first Pool B match while England will take on Germany.
The Pool B comprises Belgium, Argentina, The Netherlands and Spain.
In the next one week, Marijne wants to build the intensity during the training sessions. "The focus is to get the intensity higher and higher for our conditioning as we approach match day.
"Our preparations have been really good with the 18-day national camp in Bengaluru but there is scope to get our level higher ahead of the tournament. We play short matches among ourselves so we keep the guys in match momentum," stated Marijne.
The team will play practice matches against Olympic gold medallists Argentina on November 27 and England on November 28 respectively.
"For me the most important thing is performance. Rupinder and Biru (Birendra Lakra) who are making a comeback also get an extra match before going into our first game against Australia. While I am happy with how the players have done in training, playing matches is always good.
"It doesn't matter that England are grouped with us. Playing practice match against any team is welcome and also both teams follow each other closely so there are not many secrets between each other," he remarked.
(With IANS Inputs)