Hangzhou: Eyes firmly trained on Paris Olympics berth, outright favourites India would look to start their Asian Games 2023 campaign with a dominant win over lowly-ranked Uzbekistan in their opening Pool A match on Sunday. Ranked third in the world, India are the highest-placed side in the continental showpiece and it would be a big disappointment if the Harmpanpreet Singh-led side fumbles here.
Having returned with a bronze medal from last edition of the Asian Games, the Indians would look for resurrection this time around and, going by their world status and current form, they are sure-shot gold-medal contenders and anything less than that would be a big letdown.
After the historic bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, it has been a roller-coaster ride for the Indian men’s hockey team as it finished a disappointing ninth in the World Cup at home in January this year, which led to the ouster of Australian chief coach Graham Reid.
But the eight-time Olympic champions came back strong under new chief coach Craig Fulton to claim the Asian Champions Trophy title in Chennai last month, which also propelled them to the top three in world rankings.
The Asian Champions Trophy was a dress rehearsal for the Asian Games as all the top teams of the continent participated in the event and India turned out to be the best side in the tournament.