The Indian men’s hockey team will be rewriting a piece of history when they go out to play against Great Britain in a historic quarterfinal on Sunday evening at the Tokyo Olympics 2021.
The Indian men’s hockey team is the most successful side in the Summer Games with eight gold medals. The last time the Indian hockey team won a medal was at the 1980 edition Moscow.
A fifth-place finish in the next edition – at Los Angeles in 1984 – remains the next best finish for the team which had scaled unprecedented heights decades ago.
In the recent past, the Indian men’s hockey team had scaled new lows – from not qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics to finishing 12th in 2012 London Olympics and eighth at Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Read: Indian Men’s hockey team achieves highest-ever world ranking after Olympic group stage success
A lot of expectations hinged on the Indian men’s hockey team as they departed to Tokyo for the Olympics. The team got an extra year to hone their skills at the Sports Authority of India (SAI Centre in Bengaluru.
Under the watchful eyes of coach Graham Reid, India made sure to leave no stone unturned in their preparation to excel at the Tokyo Olympics.
Indian men’s hockey team’s rise after a wobbly start
India did start well against New Zealand, beating them 3-2 but against Australia in their next match, Manpreet Singh and co. looked listless and were thumped 1-7. Going back to the drawing board, India bounced back in style, beating Spain (3-0), defending champions Argentina (3-1) and Japan (5-3) to make a strong statement ahead of the quarterfinals.
In the process, India also achieved their highest-ever world ranking of 3 after their last group-stage match against Japan. The Indian hockey team entered the Tokyo Olympics 2021 as the fourth ranked team.
Graham Reid has made sure the team has bonded well and has brought a sense of belief among the players – a trait that was visible in the group stages of the Olympics.
Also Read: India vs Great Britain men’s hockey quarter-final at Olympics 2021: Preview, prediction, when and where to watch
Nation rallies behind Indian hockey team
As India prepares for its biggest match of the Tokyo Olympics so far, support has poured in from all sides for Manpreet Singh and Co., including social media.
Former skipper Viren Rasquinha rallied behind the Indian team and posted on Twitter:
“Very nervous & excited for Indian hockey’s most important match in 41 years. Not reached an Olympic SF since 1980 (sic). High time we changed that stat in the QF vs GBR tonight. Would love to see the entire nation watching & supporting our hockey team. Give it everything you have boys!”
There were a lot of messages on Twitter wishing the team to go for the kill and do their best.
As fans and critics wait with bated breath, India hopes to do well and be on the right side of the result in what could be a historic hockey campaign for the country.
Also read: Olympics 2021 men’s hockey quarterfinals: How India should approach the Great Britain match