Bhubaneswar, April 12 (PTI): A ‘totally different’ German men’s hockey team without some of their senior players arrived here on Tuesday to face hosts India in the FIH Pro League double-header on Thursday and Friday.
The world number 6 side are currently placed second in the Pro League table with 17 points from eight games.
German head coach Andre Henning said many of his players will make their international debut against India at the Kalinga Stadium.
“We are here with a young team…a totally different team. It is a special moment for most of the guys as they will be making their debuts here in India,” Henning said.
“So, getting their first cap ever in the Hockey country and in one of the best stadiums in the world, is an amazing opportunity.
“We had to leave some of the guys home due to Euro Hockey League (EHL). To be honest, it will be tough, but we are competitive and are good enough for a surprise.”
India, on the other hand, are on top of the standings with 21 points from 10 matches. They had beaten Germany 5-4 in the bronze play-off in the Tokyo Olympics last year to clinch a historic medal after 41 years.
Reflecting on their Pro League campaign so far, Henning said, “17 points in eight matches is extremely good, but I think we still have to improve. I am still not happy with the way we played the whole time.
“But I’ve seen that the team is making huge steps and amazing improvements. So, well deserved 17 points. We are in a good position now, but still, a lot to do for the upcoming games here in India.”
Talking about India, Henning said, “Just have the biggest respect for the way they play, the way they have improved in the last few years. They are at the top at the moment, and that’s well deserved.
“They showed some extremely strong performances and have improved on the pitch, which reflects on their results. I think it’s not a big surprise that they are so successful at the moment, and are of course, extremely hard to beat.”