Jun 27, 2021

Tokyo Olympics: Lack of experienced forward line may harm Indian team in Olympics.

Indian team announcement for any big tournament is always an eventful affair. This time was no different when Hockey India announced Indian men team for Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 
Akashdeep and Ramandeep left out
of Olympics squad

In a move that shocked Indian hockey fans, coach Graham Reid and selection committee decided to leave out the experienced trio of Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil and Ramandeep Singh for Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

This decision to leave experienced players surprised many people in Indian hockey community as it weakens the forward line. 

India’s record in last two Olympics hasn’t been something to remember and the team has really struggled in front of the goal. While Indian team scored 10 goals in 6 games in Rio Olympics, the team could only manage 8 goals in 6 games at London games. 

There is no doubt that young players selected in the place of experienced players have elevated level of motivation and willingness to prove themselves, but Olympics is not a tournament to experiment. The amount of pressure that on the players is enormous and it could end up overwhelming the young players on the biggest stage of all. 

READ MORE: Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Indian men team guide, fixtures, and key players

In a tournament like Olympics, experience counts, a lot. The players left out by Indian team management have proved themselves many times on the field. Akashdeep Singh, SV Sunil and Ramandeep Singh have earned more than 400 joint caps among themselves and are being replaced by players who have not even earned 100 caps. Including these young players, Indian team has surely sacrificed experience that could backfire when the tournament starts. 

Going back again to earlier two Olympics, the mediocre performance in 2012 Olympics was due to lack of strategy but in 2016, the situation was similar as of today. In 2016 Rio Olympics, Indian team went with just 4 forwards and was forced to play Sardar Singh in the forward line to compensate for having lesser number and inexperienced forward line.  

Having inexperienced forward line will also put added pressure on rest of the team when it comes to goal scoring. Now playing the role of senior players, apart from shouldering goal scoring responsibility, they will also have to guide younger players on the field. In past few years, Mandeep had Akashdeep and SV Sunil to support him in the striking circle while Lalit was very well supported by Ramandeep Singh in the playmaking role. Absence of senior stars would also add responsibility on the midfield led by Manpreet Singh. 

Captain Manpreet Singh is also leading a midfield that is less experienced compared to earlier Olympics. Sumit, Nilakantha, Vivek and Hardik are talented players for sure, but the Indian midfield relies a lot on Manpreet Singh to bail the team out in demanding situations. 

The recent Pro League game against Argentina proves the above point. Trailing 2-1, and the team unable to break the deadlock, Manpreet picked the ball, beat five players, and earned a penalty corner that helped India to draw the game. Though it is business as usual for Manpreet in his extensive career for India, but with inexperienced forward line, the pressure on Manpreet is just going to increase. 

 It is quite well known in sports circles and at every workspace that experience plays a significant role every team’s performance. And for an important tournament like Olympics, teams need proven goal scorers and players who can keep their cool in crunch situation and get the results. 

Indian hockey fans have waited for over 40 years to win a medal in Olympics. With the current team selections, the wait might just go on bit longer. 


  1. Previously they forced Harendra to drop Rupinderpal and India paid the price, Same again, we will not be on the podium

    1. True, that was an interesting event as well. Harendra wanted Rupinder in the team but then he was forced to leave him. If the team fails to deliver in Olympics, the question should be raised at the selectors/federation and not the coaches/players like we do every time.