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Olympic hockey opener will set momentum: Forward Ramandeep

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Bengaluru, June 9 (IANS) Experienced India hockey forward Ramandeep Singh said on Wednesday that a good showing in the opening match at the Tokyo Olympic Games will give the team the “right momentum”.

The Indian men’s team will begin their campaign in Tokyo on July 24, against New Zealand in a first round-robin match.

“To gain the right momentum, it will be important to begin well. A lot will depend on how we fare in the first match. A good result against New Zealand will set the momentum for the rest of the tournament,” said the 28-year-old Ramandeep, who was a member of India’s gold medal-winning team at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.

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The men’s team is grouped in Pool A along with reigning Olympic champions Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and hosts Japan.

Ramandeep said the coaching staff at the national camp at the Sports Authority of India centre here was replicating the “atmosphere of international competitions” and the squad was “playing internal matches as part of the team’s selection process”.

“We are replicating the Olympic schedule. Three teams with different combinations from within the Olympic core group have been formed and the coaching staff has created an atmosphere that is similar to what it would be like at the Olympics,” said Ramandeep.

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“We wear the Indian kit, we get ready as though we are facing a tough international opponent, we do team activation (pre-match drills) just like we would before an international game and we also line up for the national anthem before the start of the match.”

Ramandeep said missing international matches due to Covid is being made up by other means.

“We are paying attention on recovery when we have back-to-back matches and so on. Though we missed out on travelling for international matches due to the pandemic, I feel this exercise of playing internal matches is bringing out the match mentality,” he said.

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Ramandeep was part of the team that played in Europe earlier this year but suffered a cut on his hand that forced him out of the tour after the first game against Germany. “I ended up missing the Argentina tour. But now I feel I am in good nick,” he said. “I had an ankle injury. But mid 2019 onwards I have been doing well and I believe I have returned to my old form.”

–IANS

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