New Delhi, Sep 14: With a chance to earn a direct Paris Olympics 2024 qualification, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team will open their 19th Asian Games Hangzhou campaign against Uzbekistan on 24 September 2023. Ahead of the all-important tournament, Indian Men’s Hockey Team goalkeeper Krishan B Pathak on Thursday spoke about his selection in the team and his family’s reaction when he broke the news to them.
Speaking about representing the country at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022, Pathak said, “It is definitely a proud moment for me and my family. If I look back on my journey, I never imagined that I would get the opportunity to earn more than 100 international caps for India and play my second Asian Games. It is something I will cherish for a lifetime. We will take it match by match and will not take any team for granted. We cannot let our guard down at any given time.”
“The training has been going well,” he said, before adding, “All of the players are working hard to prepare for the big tournament. On the practice pitch, we work out every day. Aside from that, we've had 4-5 goalkeeping sessions with Dennis, and there will be a few more in the coming days. We've gone over the basics again, focusing on the mistakes we made in previous tournaments and how to improve quick decision-making, among other things. Before coming to the camp, Dennis asked us what problems we were having and how we could work together to solve them.”
Pathak, a member of the Indian Men's Hockey Team that recently won the 7th edition of the Asian Champions Trophy in Chennai, emphasised the tournament's importance in the run-up to the Asian Games and how it helped them fine-tune their preparations.
“We have a good run of games in the lead-up to the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022. We played against some top sides, so that will definitely help us in identifying what are our strong and weak points. The players will also get confidence from a good outing that they have had in the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes going forward,” he added.
The young goalkeeper has played a perfect second fiddle to PR Sreejesh and is ready to take on the lead role too when given the opportunity. On working with Sreejesh, Pathak says, “We have an excellent bonding between us. He is one of the senior players in the team and whenever I am in doubt, I just go up to him and seek his advice on the matter. His experience of playing over the last two decades surely helped me a lot.
The Punjab-born player is one of the most talented goalkeepers to emerge from India’s Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup 2016 side. He went on to make his debut for the Senior National team at the 4 Nations Invitational Tournament 2018 in New Zealand. He was a part of the 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang Bronze medal-winning team and lifted the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Muscat 2018 as joint winners with Pakistan.