BENGALURU: Aiming to hit peak form in next month's Hockey World League Semi Final, the Indian team today left for a three-nation invitational tournament in Germany starting June 1.
The 18-member squad, led by Manpreet Singh, left from the Kempegowda International Airport in the wee hours this morning after a two-week national camp at the Sports Authority of India campus here.
At the tournament in Dusseldorf, India will play two matches each against Germany and Belgium.
"Playing top teams like Germany and Belgium (both Rio Olympic Medalists), will help us a lot ahead of the Hero Hockey World League Semi Final (Men)," stated Manpreet ahead of the departure. "If we play well against them, we will gain a lot of confidence and it will give us a little more time to make minor changes in our game and iron out any mistake. We will be able to assess our performance and get ready for the bigger challenge in London," he added.
Right after the invitational tournament, the team will arrive in London on June 9 for the Hero Hockey World League Semi Final (Men) where it will play practice matches against Olympic Gold Medalists Argentina and Great Britain.
"We always take practice matches seriously because doing well in a practice match means gaining the required momentum for the start of the tournament. We will also get the feel of the pitch to get a good sense of how to take penalty corners." said the 24-year-old Manpreet.
India will play their first match against Scotland (June 15), followed by Canada (June 17), Pakistan (June 18) and the Netherlands (June 20) in the pool stage. "We cannot single out any one team as a tough team to beat because every team will play their best considering this is a prestigious tournament and also a World Cup qualifier," he said. "We cannot take any team lightly and our aim will be to start on a winning note and earn those three points," he added.