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Coach Graham insists good defence can win matches, says Birendra Lakra

India displayed some spectacular attacking hockey in the FIH Hockey Pro League matches last month, beating the likes of Australia and Belgium

India coach Graham Reid, known for his inclination towards the aggressive brand of hockey, is also a firm believer that a strong defence can win tournaments, national team defender Birendra Lakra said on Saturday.

India displayed some spectacular attacking hockey in the FIH Hockey Pro League matches last month, beating the likes of Australia and Belgium.

“Playing aggressive and attacking hockey, pushing for goals and those important circle penetrations is the style of hockey we as a team want to play,” Lakra said.

The 30-year-old said that the Australian is very clear about his expectations from the team’s defence.
 

“Although chief coach Graham’s training often involves high intensity sessions where he likes to see quality attack, he is also very clear about his expectations from the team’s defence. Graham tells us that a strong line of defence can not only win matches but it can also win us tournaments.”

Lakra believes the team is improving under the tutelage of Reid.

“In the past, there have been times when we have slipped up in defence in the final moments of the match. But I believe we have improved in this aspect over the past couple of months and the coach often says our defence starts with our forwardline.”

Lakra who had missed the 2016 Rio Olympics due to a knee surgery is working towards securing a spot in the team for the Tokyo Games.

“I may be an experienced defender in the team but I can’t take my place for granted. Each one of us have to earn our place in the squad for Tokyo and this means we give our 100 per cent in training and matches.

“I was very unlucky to miss the Rio Olympics due to injury but this time I am really working hard to play the best hockey for my team,” Lakra said.

First Published: Sat, March 14 2020. 17:16 IST

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