Learnt from mistakes and corrected them, says India captain Uttam Singh after Men’s Junior Asia Cup 2023 title win

M SudharshanM Sudharshan

June 3 2023
Men's Junior Asia Cup 2023 Uttam Singh
(Courtesy : Twitter/@asia_hockey)

The Blue Colts edged Pakistan in a tight game to lift their fourth trophy in the tournament.

Indian junior men’s hockey team defeated Pakistan 2-1 in the final to clinch the title at the Men’s Junior Asia Cup 2023 held in Oman. This was India’s fourth title from nine editions in the tournament history. The Indian team remained undefeated throughout the tournament and topped their pool at the end of the league stage. Goalkeeper Mohit was one of the top performers in the final and also in the tournament.

After the victory, head coach CR Kumar and captain Uttam Singh attended a press conference and shared their views on the title triumph.

Challenges in facing Pakistan in final

Head coach CR Kumar said, “I have worked with Roelant Oltmans in the past when he was in India and certainly know his strengths. We worked on certain aspects of our pool game and were ready to face them in the final. In the final, we wanted to score early which we did, and simultaneously were under pressure as well with Pakistan upping their game in the third quarter. Overall we played with good discipline and in the end we achieved our target by winning the title.”

Captain Uttam Singh added,” The matches are always tight whenever India play Pakistan. I made my senior national debut against Pakistan in the Asia Cup and the pressure in both the senior and junior matches were quite different. I motivated the players to not take pressure but rather focus on the game. Also, we learnt from our mistakes in the pool game. We had a meeting where we discuss what went wrong against Pakistan in the pool game and corrected those in the final.”

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Improvements going ahead of the Men’s Junior World Cup

“Although we have won the title, doesn’t mean that we have implemented the plan we had to perfection. We planned out certain things in the training session but couldn’t replicate the same in the matches. In the Johor Cup, we conceded close to 20 goals but now the margin has been reduced reasonably. There are still areas to improve which we are working on,” Uttam added.

Plans ahead of the Men’s Junior World Cup

The coach explained on the plans ahead of the Junior World Cup, “We have a good number of matches scheduled in Europe. From 1-9 July we will be in Spain playing with their U-21 team. Then we come back home and train for a few days and then head back to Germany for a five-nation tournament. In October we have Sultan Johor Cup and these are the three exposure tournaments we have before the Junior World Cup.”

Thoughts on the performance of Goalkeeper

“Mohit is one of the finest and upcoming goalkeepers in the country. He played well in the Johor Cup where he stopped a couple of shots in the shoot-offs helping the team to win the title. In this tournament too he showed good composure and got help from the defenders who surrounded him well.

“Mohit is gradually learning and is developing to be a good goalkeeper. Also, the junior players got the opportunity to train alongside the senior players during the national camp in Banglore. We even played against the senior players and the experience of playing them will boost their (junior players) confidence.”

Hockey India announced a cash prize of Rs 2 lack each for the players and Rs 1 lakh each for the support staff. Uttam Singh thanked Hockey India for the monetary benefits and said, “The players were motivated to win the title from the beginning. We were given the same cash prize when we won the Johor Cup and wanted to replicate the same here. Winning the title is most important which we were able to do at the Junior Asia Cup.”

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