India men's hockey team will return to action for the first time since their historic Olympic bronze medal winning campaign as the Asian Champions Trophy 2021 gets underway in Dhaka from December 14.
In their opening tie, India are up against South Korea. The defending Champions will be led by skipper Manpreet Singh and vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh as they look to win the trophy. India have won this prestigious event thrice since its inception in 2011 and have won the previous two editions held in 2016 in Kuantan, Malaysia and 2018 in Muscat, Oman.
Poised to win the trophy for the third consecutive time, team skipper Manpreet emphasized getting off to a good start.
"Korea is a good team and are very capable of slowing down our attack. In this same venue during the Asia Cup in 2017, we had drawn (1-1) against them in the league stage. Hence, it's important we don't get complacent against them and ensure our basics are right when we play them tomorrow," he said in a Hockey India release.
Speaking about the importance of the tournament for Team India, Manpreet said: "The tournament is quite an important one for us as it is our first tournament after the Tokyo Olympics. The new cycle has started for us. If we start well, then our confidence levels will go high," he said.
Several youngsters have been given a chance in the India squad for the tournament, and Manpreet went on to explain why doing well for them here will be crucial.
The semi-finals will be played on December 21 followed by the final on December 22. In the previous edition of this event held in Muscat, Oman, India had jointly lifted the title along with Pakistan as the final was called off due to incessant rains.