India will eye redemption after their World Cup exit when they will face the newly-crowned world champions Germany in their FIH Men's Hockey Pro League fixture on Friday. Led by Harmanpreet Singh, the Indian team had suffered a loss in the last-16 stage of the World Cup held in January.
"Every match at this stage is challenging for us, especially when the oppositions are Australia and Germany," said the India skipper.
"However, it’s good for us that we are getting to play such challenging matches as our focus is on Asian Games. So, we will make sure that we improve as a team by playing such games and give our best in the future," he added.
India is set to play their first match after the departure of Graham Reid. The former coach was then replaced by Craig Fulton who is expected to join the team later. Interim coaches David John and BJ Kariappa will be at the helm for the four matches.
Following their World Cup debacle, India have axed senior players Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, and Amit Rohidas, while goalkeeper Krishan Pathak will be missing due to his wedding.
Having elevated to vice-captaincy, Hardik Singh said India will tweak their strategy but their core values will remain the same.
“There will be minor changes to our strategy, but our core values and principles of the team will remain the same. Also, we will not only focus on our attacking style of play but also work on keeping the possession,” Hardik said.
India, who are currently fourth in the points tally, hosted New Zealand and Spain at the Kalinga Stadium last year in October in the FIH Hockey Pro League 2022/2023. They started their campaign with a 4-3 and 7-4 win against New Zealand, followed by a 3-2 loss and a 2-2 draw against Spain.
When it comes to Germany, they are ranked fifth in the Pro League with eight points from four games and will start their campaign on a high note after having won the World Cup. Led by Mats Grambusch, the German team will aim to continue their momentum.
“All our matches in the World Cup 2023 were really close as we won our quarterfinal and final games through shootouts.
"We secured victory in the semi-final in the last few seconds of the game. So, considering that there will be many competing games against some good teams like Australia, India, Belgium, and Netherlands in the leadup to the 2024 Paris Olympics, we have to improve what we can improve and that’s going to be our focus,” Grambusch said.
Rourkela is set to host all six matches, where India, Germany, and Australia will play each other twice.