It may lack experience but England’s hockey team is confident of putting its best foot forward at the upcoming junior World Cup here.
Coach Jon Bleby was both realistic and optimistic of his team’s chances in the competition. Having landed almost 10 days in advance to get used to the conditions, the team had its first hard training session on Friday at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium, the venue for the competition.
“We have had a good build-up to the junior World Cup. We have played against some very good teams including five-time winners Germany and Holland. We know both these teams are very, very tough. The Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia was actually very good for the boys in terms of getting prepared for the conditions in India.
“None of them had travelled before to hot conditions so it was great,” Bleby said after the training session.
He counted the two besides India as the favourites to win the tournament. “India is a great team and we have a great respect for it.
“We played it in Malaysia and lost 3-1 while India went on to win the event. We actually played quite well in that game but still lost so we know India’s standards,” he said.
Asked about the areas of concern for the team, Bleby said the team had concentrated on goal scoring and penalty corners.
“In Malaysia we got around 10 short corners against India but couldn’t score off any, so scoring is an area we have been working really hard on.
“We have set some goals for ourselves from the tournament but not specific targets in terms of results. We are looking at performing as consistently as possible and if we make the quarterfinals, then anything is possible,” he added.
England will play a practice match against India on Saturday. The junior World Cup starts on December 6 with all 16 teams in action.