POTCHEFSTROOM: Having begun their FIH Hockey Pro League 2021/2022 campaign with two comprehensive wins on the trot, a confident India men's hockey team will hope to keep the juggernaut rolling when it takes on France here on Saturday.
In the opening match, India beat France 5-0 where Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Shamsher Singh, Mandeep Singh and Akashdeep Singh, who was playing his 200th international match, scored goals.
"It was good to start off the campaign with a win. Our first quarter was patchy but after the first quarter, we played a rather composed game. We played to our structure and converted from the chances we created," stated India skipper Manpreet Singh.
Despite the win, Manpreet believes France is an unpredictable team and on a good day they can pull off a surprise any team.
"It's important we don't take them lightly when we play against them on Saturday. We saw what France is capable of when they played against the Netherlands. The match went into a shootout after a 2-2 draw and eventually, they lost in the shootout. Even when we played against them, they created good chances to score," he added.
India are slated to take on hosts South Africa a day later on Sunday and the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist will vie to end their South African sojourn on a winning note.
India had hammered South Africa 10-2 on Wednesday.
New comer Jugraj Singh scored a hat-trick of goals with Gursahibjit Singh and Dilpreet Singh scoring braces.
Harmanpreet, newcomer Abhishek, and Mandeep Singh were the other goal scorers for India.
Though it was a big-margin victory for India, Manpreet expressed that there were several aspects the team could have done better particularly in the second half.
"Definitely the highlight of this match was both newcomers in the team Jugraj and Abhishek scoring goals and also creating opportunities. But when we watched the videos from this match, we definitely felt that as a team, we could have done better in the second half. There were lapses in the defence, which allowed South Africa to come back into the game and we didn't carry on the same tempo with which we started the match."
The skipper hopes to achieve more consistency in the remaining to games.
"We will need to play consistently in all four quarters and that will focus on doing that in the upcoming two matches against France and South Africa. It will obviously be good if we can end the tour with winning points," he concluded.
India is currently placed third in the pool standings behind Netherlands and Belgium respectively who have played four matches.
They will take on France on Saturday followed by South Africa on Sunday.
Both matches start at 9:30 pm IST.